“Nice to meet you, Lala-oneechan.”
The red-haired beastman girl introduced herself as Lala.
She seemed to still be cautious of me, but she followed me down the stairs nonetheless.
She was the same beastman my double saw being dragged into Duke Kaion’s castle the other day.
I got curious after my double reported it, so I transferred my consciousness to the said double and made contact like this.
“… but what did you mean when you said you wanted to meet beastmen like me…?”
“Well, the beastmen steal the humans’ crops, right?”
“Tch…that’s true…but we only do so because you humans have driven us so far north that we’re unable to grow our own crops!”
She shouted so in the underground tunnel.
What I said must have sounded like I was admonishing her and her people.
“Ahm, I’m not criticizing you. I mean, whatever it takes to survive, right?”
Lala-san said so as though she was surprised that I was being understanding.
“How about trading for the crops? Was that not possible?”
“Humans detest us to the very core, so even if we tried to trade, they will likely not accept any of our offers.”
“Is that so?”
“…apparently, way back then, we used to really attack the human-controlled territories with all our might. It was all for nothing as we still ended up being driven up further north…however, in the course of it all, we had slain many humans. Some humans to this day still hold a grudge against us for that.”
“But the humans have slain many of us too! I’ve even heard that you used to hunt us down like we’re mere game!”
To say that humans and beastmen were at odds with each other seemed to be quite a bit of an understatement.
“Ugh, what use is there saying such things to a child…sorry I shouted.”
Lala-san regained composure and apologized like that.
“It’s alright. But anyway, so long as you can grow your own crops, you won’t have any need to do those raids anymore, right?”
“Yeah, sure, but the land we live in is so barren, there’s no chance we can grow our own crops…”
Their land felt kind of like the wasteland where the village was.
Also, the wasteland and their land were quite close to each other, almost at each other’s flanks even.
“Once we go up these stairs, we’ll be outside the castle.”
“…I really did escape…”
While talking like that, we climbed to the surface.
To our backs was the duchy capital’s walls.
We had travelled underground all the way from the duke’s castle to the outside of the city where there were no guards.
Of course, in order to not get discovered, I eliminated any evidence.
“So, mind leading me toward your village?”
“You really plan on following me up to there? It’s a good distance away from here, you know? I don’t know how long it’ll take me to cover that distance, let alone a young human child…”
“It’s alright. I can make us a road that’ll allow us to walk faster.”
I immediately built and extended a road in front of us.
<<Road: A cobblestone road. Reduces fatigue and improves movement speed.>>
“Wh-what!? Why is there suddenly a path here…”
“Let’s walk along this road, ok?”
“You’re just walking casually, so why are you so fast!? H-hey, wait for me—woah!?”
In Lala-san’s panicked attempt to catch up, she exerted too much forward momentum that she ended up falling down.
“See, fast, right?”
“What the heck is this!?”
Like that, we walked along the road for a few hours.
Before long, we exited the duchy and reached the beastmen’s land.
It wasn’t the wasteland my village was in, but it was certainly barren as well. Moreover, even though it started snowing only a little while ago, the ground already had a thin layer of it.
We continued to head north, making turns whenever Lala-san said so. Of course, I extended the road according to her guidance. Eventually, I saw something that resembled a settlement.
“I didn’t think we’d arrive so soon…even if I ran with all my might and without any worry about the girl keeping up, I still wouldn’t have made it here so quickly…”
“Is that your village?”
“Yeah, that’s where we’re living at the moment.”
“At the moment?”
“We don’t really settle anywhere, you see. I mean, we can’t grow crops, so we don’t really have any strong reason to remain at any one place. Plus, settling makes it more likely to be attacked by humans.”