Weekly chapters (2/2)
Included a colored illustration from the LN.
Enjoy the chapter~
Episode 57 ~I decided to start the duel~
[The fight will follow our tradition then, it will be a Toga match!]
Other centaurs shouted in excitement after Penelope’s declaration.
What in the world was Toga? I sneaked a look at Marl, but she responded by shaking her head. Even Marl was not aware of this tradition.
[I shall explain because Taichi-san may not be aware of our centaurs’ tradition. Toga is a traditional duel method that has been handed down from ancient times among the centaurs. There are five types of competition, and with the consent of both sides, we’ll be competing in three of them.]
[Ho, sounds interesting. What competitions are we talking about here?]
[The first competition is a running race. We’ll start running at the same time, turn around that flag and race back to the starting point. The second competition is a strength contest. Anyone who makes their opponent touch the ground other than with their feet, or pushes their opponent back a certain distance, will win. The third is a shooting competition. The one who can accurately hit the farthest target wins. The fourth is livestock catching competition. The one who can capture the most livestock that are scattered inside the fence wins. The last one is a martial arts competition. You can fight with your preferred weapons here. The first one to surrender or be knocked out is the loser. We’ll choose three to compete in. No magic is allowed. This is Toga.]
After hearing the content of the game, I thought for a while. I can probably win any of the competitions mentioned. I’m not confident about how to handle livestock, but I’m sure there was a training skill in the production skills list. So if I raise the level, I should be able to do something about it. I’m worried about shooting in general, but in my case it’s okay if I’m allowed to compete by throwing. In case of emergency, it will be okay if I take the shooting skills. There’s nothing to worry about regarding the other three.
[You said we’ll compete in 3 out of 5 competitions? I have only two requests. I have never handled livestocks before, so I’d appreciate it if that competition is excluded. I also rarely handle bows, but can throw with my hand pretty well. If we’re going to compete in shooting, I’d like to be allowed to use throwing instead.]
Penelope nodded to my terms, then raised his voice towards the other centaurs
[Taichi-dono is different from us centaurs. He’s a human hero who does not usually tend to the livestocks, as his livelihood is to wield a sword, cast magic, and defeat monsters. In turn, we, the centaurs cannot use magic. Since our Toga prohibit the use of magic, it will be only fair if we don’t include the livestock competition in respect to Taichi-dono’s plea. What say you all!]
The centaurs unanimously agreed to Penelope’s suggestion. Hearing so many centaurs shout all at once, I couldn’t help but to feel pumped up too.
[There are two types of shooting competitions, the first is the usual archery and the second is javelin, arrow, or stone throwing. If Taichi-dono is good at throwing, then there’s no reason to exclude it. We are going to compete in it.]
[No problem. Feel free to decide on the other two competitions. I’m sorry about the livestock handling competition though. Also, I don’t mind competing against different people in each competition. Isn’t it hard to find someone who is good at everything? As I said before, it’ll be a fight between me alone against the entire centaurs here.]
[You sound confident. Are you sure you are not overestimating yourself?]
[Well, what do you think? I’m just that confident in my own abilities. I actually don’t mind competing with you in all the competitions, bar the livestock tending one, you know?]
Both me and Penelope smiled at each other. His smile was more of a ferocious one. But I’m pretty sure I had the same kind of smile as well.
[Let’s do just that then. I hope you don’t spout any excuses when you lose.]
[Right back at you. I’ll beat you all to a complete submission. So be prepared.]
Whilst still grinning from hearing my boisterous remark, Penelope turned to the excited centaurs, probably to pick the competing members. Looking sideways after he left, I found Marl staring back at me with a smile.
[Nothing. It is just that Taichi-san looks so lively.]
[Am I? Well, it’s fun.]
I somehow felt embarrassed, so I poked Marl’s cheek with my finger in retaliation. But the sight of Marl looking happy when I poked at her only made me more convinced over how cute she was. I’m not sure, but it seems that she enjoyed it.
Well, I mean, this was pretty much the only entertainment I have since I’ve been spending most of my free time by eating or staying indoors recently.
[Ah, I just remembered that there is something I need to do at the adventurers guild. I should be going now. I do not think it will take hours.]
[Nn, will you be alright on your own?]
[No worries. Judging from what I saw from yesterday, Gandil seems to be reasonably safe. If push comes to shove, I can always rely on the stuff I have inside this cloak.]
[Just be careful… if you’re late, I’ll go search for you immediately even if I have to throw the competition.]
[Alright. Well then, I shall return shortly.]
Marl smiled, gesturing me for a kiss as though it’s the most natural thing to do. But before that, I already took her into my embrace. Who cared about the onlookers?
It seemed that the competitors’ selection would be completed soon. Several had gathered, ranging from young and fearless centaurs to the slightly older looking ones.
I was watching the situation by stretching to stretch the joints of my body. If I remember correctly, it’s called radio calisthenics exercise back in my original world. Then Penelope approached, making a popping sound of hoofs as he did.
[Taichi-dono, the selection is completed, but… what are you doing?]
[It’s a preparatory step to stretch and unravel the muscle knots. It looks like a dubious dance, I know.]
[Ah, of course.]
During our conversation, I saw Marl rushing from the direction of Gandil. It’s only been 30 minutes. Did she finish her matter ahead of time?
[I made it in time!]
[Welcome back. Have you finished your business?]
[Yes, I have!]
Marl’s face was visibly reddened. There’s nothing embarrassing about our exchanges, was there? I guess it’s just because she ran with all her might.
[Then, is it alright to start now?]
[Sure. In what order would you like to compete?]
[Running competition, shooting competition, strength competition, and lastly, martial arts competition. It’s better to do the running and shooting competition while there’s still daylight. We can do the strength and martial arts competition anytime as long as there’s enough light.]
Penelope’s words were convincing enough to me. Sunset should be in about two hours. It’ll be dangerous to run around in the dark, and it’s difficult to see distant targets too.
Some centaurs ran with something like a straw bundle that would be the target. It seems that they have already started preparing for the shooting competition.
[Yosha, let’s do it.]
[Let’s get it on then.]
[Taichi-san, do your best!]
After responding to Marl’s cheers, I was guided to a place where the centaurs who seemed to be runners were lined up. Every centaur had a lean and toned horse body, and all of them seemed to be quick if they ran. There were not only men but also women centaurs. Hmmm, all the centaurs seem to be a bit sickly, probably because they have been poorly nourished recently, but their eyes are full of vitality.
When looking at the runners, one of them-a female centaur, met my gaze.
[Nothing. I just thought that everyone had a wonderful body. It seems to have both flexibility and toughness. It’s like well-forged steel.]
[Mu… don’t expect me to pull my punches just because you praise me.]
She glared at me, but otherwise blushed slightly. Do the centaur women consider “body like well-forged steel” a compliment…? That’s a culture shock for me.
However, it’s still thrilling to be glared at by a woman who was blushing shyly like that, am I right?
[Hahaha, no worries. I’ll give you a headstart.]
[Oh? Look who’s talking here!]
A young centaur, probably one of the runners, butted in.
What’s with this guy… although he didn’t seem any different from the other centaurs, his atmosphere was way too messy. He’s the so-called chara guy. There’s actually a chara-guy in this world?
[Can you beat us with those short, thick two legs? Let me tell you, I’m fast. Because I have the blessing of Bountiful Wind God!]
[I don’t have any blessing, but that won’t make me a loser. It’s just a game.]
Charataur raised his thumb up, so I did the same and smiled the same way as he did. This character seemed like a friendly fellow. I also greeted the other participating centaurs lightly. They responded amiably. As if they bore no hate despite my provocation earlier.
[You see, you could’ve challenged us to a Toga when we’re weakened. But you didn’t. Instead you gave us a chance to regain our strength back and challenged us openly afterward. Even if there are some of us who still hate you, there’s no way we’d treat you badly.]
The other centaurs nodded in agreement to the charataur’s explanation. Right afterward, I heard a high pitched whistle-like sound from the distance. Me and the other centaurs reflexively looked toward the source of such sound.
[It seems that we’re about to begin.]
The female centaur said so as she headed to the starting line. I followed suit and lined myself up along with the other competitors. Every centaur is a magnificent centaur with a stunning horse body like a thoroughbred horse. Given the common sense of the original world, there is no chance for humans to compete and win against thoroughbred horses.
But how about in this world?
[Are you all in the position…? Alright then, you all start running as soon as this signal arrow is shot. I think you can see it from here, there is a flag ahead if you run straight. Take that flag and race back here. The one who came first is the winner of this run competition. On your mark, get set…]
Penelope finished his explanation and notched an arrow to his short bow. The signal arrow has a special shape and makes a whistle-like sound when shot. The runners, including myself, raise the tension toward the start with the sound of pulled bowstring.
I was in a standing start position with my left foot forward. The centaurs are pulling their chin and slightly bending their upper bodies. At the same time as the start, I wonder if I should lean my upper body forward to gain momentum.
Pii! The moment we heard a high-pitched sound, we started running at once.
Heavy running sounds could be heard from the left and right, and the soil that the left and right centaurs kicked up filled my face.
Buho, hey, you guys are dirty.
Well, their heads were at a higher height than mine, so the dust won’t hinder them all that much. I don’t see this as foul play. I could’ve used the wind shield to negate the dust hindrance, but I couldn’t since the usage of magic is prohibited.
With no other choice, I increased my pacing to overtake the group of centaur runners. Those on my left and right were visibly frightened when they saw me coming at a much faster pace. None of them believed that a human could keep up with their speed even for a short moment, so what I did was beyond their expectation.
[Uwaah, are you really human?]
I ran past the group of centaur runners with a calm face. None of them could keep up with me――no, there’s still Charataur with me. The other centaurs tried, but were unable to.
[I’m just a human no matter how you look at it.]
[No, there is no way a normal human can outrun us.]
Charataur laughed while running parallel to me. This guy can really run. Alright then, I’ll make you bite the dust right in your face.
[Let’s see who can get to that flag first.]
[Oh? Sureーsureー. It’s been a while since I got serious.]
Both of us gradually increased our speed as we ran toward the flag. The other centaurs were already far behind. The two of us ran like the wind.
I managed to grab the flag first, and using the momentum, I made a U-turn and dashed back toward the starting line.
[Behold, the Bountiful Wind God’s blessing!]
Just right after I heard charataur shout something, he had already dashed past me. Oy! That’s dirty! Isn’t that magic!? Fine by me. The competition will be more interesting if it’s a close contest.
[Haha, as expected it’s a forgone con-whaaaaaaaaaaat!?]
I accelerated, leaving the shouting charataur behind. I felt like something hitting my face as I ran. I kept my upper body low and unmoving, whilst my lower body ceaselessly moved at high speed. At this speed, a mere touch of my finger would probably cause a shockwave that could cleave anything in two――I mean, I could’ve produced the same result with magic easily.
As for the other contestants, they were blown away by the resulting shockwave from my sudden acceleration. I’m sorry.
[Wellー… after some deliberation, there’s no sign of magic usage on Taichi-dono’s part, so it will be his victory for this competition.]
Oooー, Marl and several centaur kids applauded at the result. As for older centaurs, they were either too flabbergasted to respond, or expressed their doubt whether I’m a human or not. What do you think I am? UMA? Please don’t look at me with that kind of expression.
Charataur could only laugh as there’s nothing he could do to change his loss. But the other centaur runners who got blown away by the shockwave produced when I ran at supersonic speed kept complaining. Well, I don’t know how they feel. So nothing I can do about them.
Old Penelope kept dissuading the complaints because he could at least guess how devastating I could be to the environment if my running alone could cause such an effect.
Those who were chosen to compete against me in strength and martial arts competitions visibly turned pale.
[Next will be the shooting competition… Taichi-dono, can you aim for that target over there?]
I took a blacksteel stake projectile from my inventory and looked at the target. How far is it? It’s probably about 300m away. Anyway it looks small from where we stood.
Normally it’s not the distance that can be covered by a hand throw. I believe it’s no easier to shoot with a bow and arrow either. It’s probably only possible for trained marksmen with precision rifles in my original world.
I raised the black steel stake.
This one had been improved after reflecting on the unpleasant battle against that disgusting lump of meat. A stabilizing wing was attached to the rear to improve ballistic stability during long-distance throwing. It’s a type that was more conscious of accuracy and range than power. It’s shaped like a thick arrow with a bulging tip to bring the center of gravity to the tip――it’s like a small mortar ammunition in design, except it’s made entirely of black steel and doesn’t contain explosives.
Doban! The throwing stakes headed straight toward the target with heavy noise as it broke through the air barrier. Since it’ll be troublesome if they think I just used magic again, I only used half power this time. If I go full power, the projectile would turn red from the friction with air, causing its trajectory to become visible as though I was shooting a laser beam.
The distant target was hit directly by the throwing stake I released and became fine dust. Hmmm, should I have thrown it with less strength? Looking back with that in mind, there was Penelope, who looked like he was enlightened. On the other hand, light was disappearing from the eyes of the centaurs who were selected to participate in the shooting contest. All of them had a dry laugh. Was it too scary?
[Hahahaha… Taichi-dono, it will be hard to shoot that target even with a bow and arrow. And you actually hit it on the first try with a hand throw.]
Even in my original world, the best record of javelin throwing was only as far as 100m. To be able to accurately hit something at 300m is extraordinary. Even I was aware of that.
[Does that mean it’s my win?]
After that, everything went pretty fast.
Naturally, it would be a landslide victory if I were to go against a single person in the strength competition. I’d actually still win in a one vs five situation. So it’s been decided that the content of the strength competition would be changed.
[Try attacking me systematically with as many people as you want. Your member will be eliminated if I touch their body or destroy their weapon. Don’t worry about the treatment, I’ll try to not hurt any of you. The contest is settled if all of you are eliminated or surrender, or if I got incapacitated or surrender.]
[It’s quite different from our original way, and we’ll have the advantage… Is that really okay?]
[I don’t mind if it’s more fair than fighting one on one.]
[Then, we’ll follow Taichi-dono’s suggestion. Will that alright?]
Aren’t you guys too easy to sway?
[Then allow us some time to devise a strategy.]
Penelope then quickly entered the group of his warriors and began arguing about his strategy against me. Even though their hearts are about to break in front of the overwhelming difference in ability, I can appreciate their spirit to achieve victory.
I returned to Marl, who was sitting slightly further away. It seems that while watching the game with the centaur women and children, she was shown and bought various products of the centaurs. Now she’s rummaging through the collection of clothes and folk costumes.
[Oh, welcome back, Taichi-san.]
[Yeah. their warriors are in a strategic meeting.]
The sun will set soon, so I think they’ll begin before the visibility is reduced.
A large thick carpet was laid on the dry meadow, and the centaurs wiped their hooves and went up on it to relax. Marl and I felt awkward taking off the shoes we were wearing, so we sat on the edge of the carpet with our feet outstretched into the dry meadows.
[You are so strong. Are you a Hero?]
[That’s right. And thank you.]
I received the bowl offered by a centaur aunt and proceeded to sip on it. It tasted sour. It seemed to be a dairy product, but at the same time there’s a little bit of alcohol in it. Is this similar to Kumish? Now that I relax, the small exercise today kinda tires me a bit.
I drank the content of the bowl all at once.
[It’s sour but refreshing. Delicious.]
[Hahahah, a good drink! Am I right? It’s a milk liquor made from Kumin’s milk.]
With that said, the Centaur aunt turned a meaningful look at the beautiful Centaur sitting right next to Marl. The beautiful centaur had a frightening expression for a moment when she heard her aunt’s words, but her face suddenly turned beet red before rushing to me loudly.
Eh? What’s wrong? No matter how beautiful she is, seeing her huge centaur frame rushing towards me was still frightening.
She stopped in front of me, and she looked at the empty bowl and my face many times with trembling lips. Her face was bright red and her eyes teary. Eh? What’s wrong really?
[Kumin, was it? It’s delicious, I guess?]
[Uaaaah! Aunt Cass is an idiooooooOOOOOOOT!]
While saying so, the beautiful centaur――Kumin-san ran away swiftly. Well, what is wrong? Was this Kumish made from the milk of that beautiful centaur Kumin? In a sense, isn’t that like breastfeeding play but with extra steps?
[Do you have anything to say?]
[….thanks for the milk?]
She elbowed me while still smiling. It hurt so much. So unreasonable.
[Ououou… I have some questions to ask… can the centaurs produce milk without being pregnant?]
[We certainly can. A female centaur can share a small amount of the nutrients she has accumulated that way for emergencies. But of course, it’s still embarrassing for unmarried women, right? So they rarely do it, let alone give it to a male. But since it’d be a waste for all the milk she had produced, I made it into milk liquor for personal consumption.]
Centaurs were amazing. To think they had that kind of secret ability… is it like the camels who can store water and nutrition? What’s more it seems like they can actually produce milk at will.
[S, so why did you give it to me?]
[Ahahah! It’s just a little prank on my part. But it’s delicious, isn’t it?]
[It was a treat… ouch, that hurts, Marl-san!]
She might have torn the meat on my flank! It really hurts!
So the milk liquor was made from female centaur’s milk. It can be a special product if we sell it in a bottle adorned with the photo of the beautiful centaur from whom the milk came from. A slightly sexy photo may help. Un, this idea has an air of danger around it. Let’s just forget it.
[Are you by chance thinking something weird?]
[No, absolutely not.]
[What’s with such a textbook response.]
Marl proceeded to prod at my cheek with her index finger. Would-you-please-stop-that?
While we’re fooling around like that, the warriors including Penelope came to pick me up, probably because the strategy meeting and preparations were completed. Alright, let’s switch our mindset now.