Compared to how worried I am, the situation is not as bad.
It is not like Myong Myong is being bullied and cast out by the villagers. Also, although I do not know who hurt Myong Myong, the bastards who did were probably all killed by the ghosts.
My work will be done once I resolve this curse issue.
I lean on the back support of the chair I am sitting on.
I was stiff and alert all this time. Now, I am getting relaxed, and that is making me feel tired.
“Would you like to wait for a bit while drinking tea? We are preparing food for Myong Myong. We would like you to wait for a bit and deliver the food to Myong Myong later.”
I have plenty of food in the inventory, so I don’t really need to get their help on this.
However, I knew that they were also worried about Myong Myong, so I decided to agree on the request.
While I am sitting like that, I suddenly think of a question.
“The place I met Myong Myong at was at the center of the forest. Why was Myong Myong there all by himself? Even if you could not go near him, you could have helped him in different ways, such as leaving food on a pre-arranged place for him to pick up that’s nearby the village?”
Lalalila slightly blushed and responded,
“It was Myong Myong’s choice. Our tribe members like helping others, and we live for that purpose.”
“I know. I’ve heard that many times before.”
“Also, as a negative side of that desire… We prefer not to… get help from others.”
“… Although it looked like he was going to starve to death, he left to the center of the forest because he didn’t want to get help? Myong Myong did that?”
“Yes… Our core identity and pride are about helping others and not being burden, so…”
No matter how hard I think about this, they are too obsessive about these.
Even Dobi is not this diligent.
I can understand their reasons, but I do not feel the same about the issue.
“In response, if we receive favors from another, we spend our entire life to repay their generosity. Myong Myong will most definitely try to do volunteer work for you for the rest of his life. A… Also… I… I… will… for you…”
Lalalila was blushing already, but now she is blushing heavily. I am concerned that blood will start leaking out of her skin. Her face is the shade of a candy apple.
She covered her face with her hands and continued to say that she would spend the rest of her life doing volunteer services for me.
Myong Myong was like this, and now Lalalila is doing this too. It seems this entire tribe covers their faces with hands when they are embarrassed.
“I’m merely delivering food for him. There is no need for you to do volunteer work for me for the rest of your life.”
Honestly, that feels burdensome on me.
Also, I’ll be leaving this place soon.
Their intentions and hearts are kind. However, I won’t be able to receive their kindness.
“N… No! My role is managing the village and the living arrangements of the villagers! Helping Myong Myong is my work. It is only obvious that I should repay you for helping me!”
Her face is still covered with her hands. With her eyes closed, she shouted those words.
She is being stubborn. I am aware that it is not about keeping the decision she made but a matter of her pride.
Myong Myong has shown similar responses when I tried to help him when he was working.
She must be thinking that it is also her work to repay me.
I just said I understood and that she could do it.
Who is she going to do volunteer work for once I’m gone anyway?
I accepted all of her requests. However, Lalalila said she also had one more request for me.
“What is it again?”
“Myong Myong will feel like he is being a burden if he notices that the foods we prepared are from us. Also, if you tell him that you will stay with him to protect him, he might go back to the inside of the forest again.”
Considering the behaviors of Myong Myong and the tribe members I have observed so far, given their characteristics, I really think he would do that.
Now that I think about it, I didn’t tell Myong Myong that I will be escorting him back to the village. Instead, I told him that I was lost and I would like him to be my guide to get out of the forest. That really was a brilliant move.
“You want me to formulate an appropriate lie for those, right? I got it.”
“Thank you. Really, really thank you. Also, Myong Myong probably is not aware of what exactly is happening to him. So, please…”
“I got it. I’ll give him a simple explanation.”
It should be enough to tell him that the ghosts won’t be appear around him anymore and he won’t have to worry anymore.
With marble-sized teardrops rolling from her eyes, Lalalila repeatedly expressed her gratitude.
To watch such a beautiful woman like her thanking me while crying… It is quite…
“Ah, I have not even asked the name of the one who had been so kind. Can you please tell me your name? We will record it and pass it down through the generations.”
I wish you guys didn’t do such things. It is making me feel uncomfortable.
I know she is not going to listen if I said that, so I decided to tell her my name.
“I said my full name is Lee Ho-jae. My family name is Lee. My name is Ho-jae.”
“Ho…. Hooo… Jae? Pardon?”
“Ugh. My name is Lee Ho-jae.”
Lalalila suddenly got up and rushed out of the reception room.
She ran out in such a hurry that the cup of tea above the table was tilted over. The chair fell over as well. She ran out making loud noises.
If I didn’t hear it wrong…
Just before she closed the reception room’s door, didn’t I hear suppressed laughter?
Is it just my mood?
Lalalila returned after five minutes.
She came back with two other beastmen. They are carrying food supplies in full. Unlike earlier, she looks calm now.
I pushed in the supplies she handed to me.
“You have such a useful thing. Anyway, I was very rude earlier. I am very sorry. I apologize for the behavior. I didn’t know that our benefactor would make such a joke…”
“No. I am not joking. My name is Lee Ho-jae.”
“Kup. Koloc. Koloc. Koloc. Uuuhuuuk. Kolok.”
Their reactions are totally amazing.
The two other beastmen who came with Lalalila showed incredible reactions as soon as they heard my name.
One broke into laughter without realizing, and she poked herself in the side to calm herself.
The other one tried to hold in the laughter and ended up coughing due to asphyxiation.
As for Lalalila, she turned her face away.
Her shoulder is shaking. So, it seems that she is having a hard time holding in the laughter.
It would be alright if I got mad about this, right?
I can be angry, right?
* * *
Of course, I knew well that my name sounded ridiculously funny to the beastman kind.
There are the cases of Kiri Kiri and Myong Myong.
However, it usually spoiled my mood, so it did spoil my mood.
I know that they are not laughing intentionally, but I don’t want to let it be.
Unable to sit still, Lalalila and other beastmen tumbled down and apologized. However, I shot back at them and complained how could they treat me like this when they said I am their benefactor. After that, I got out of the village.
Instead of making me feel refreshed, it made me feel uncomfortable instead.
Lalalila and the other beastmen are very apologetic.
Watching them kicking themselves over the matter is making me feel sorry that I expressed my anger at them.
In the end, because of the awkwardness between each other, I left out of the reception room.
Anway, just what does my name mean? Why are they reacting like this?
In the end, nobody is willing to tell me what it meant.
Should I pour in my information allowance to determine its true meaning?
Otherwise, should I make a request for information through the Order?
Ask what the word ho-jae means in beastman’s language?
No, that is a little embarrassing. The meaning of it might spread to others too.
I left the village and returned to the forest.
Fortunately, it seems that nothing happened to the souls who had been protecting Myong Myong.
“Step aside, will ya?”
The souls did not step aside.
I tried to approach Myong Myong while ignoring the souls, and the souls screamed kuuuang, kuuaaang, making similar noises.
Their arms are the size of tiny rice grains. They lift their tiny arms up and roar at me. It is ridiculous.
They are even getting tangled up and colliding with each other in the process of stopping me.
Aren’t you guys liking Myong Myong a little too much?
Fortunately, they respond to the disappear command.
With the souls surrounding him now gone, I could see Myong Myong.
He is on the ground, curled up in a ball.
Also, he is still sobbing.
I go next to Myong Myong and sat down.
It seems Myong Myong knew I came. He lifted his head.
Still, I could not see the look on his face.
“I am sorry…”
Saying he is sorry…
It seems that what he was mumbling earlier was also this.
I wonder what it is that he is sorry about?
Is he thinking that he was being a burden and causing harm to me and the people of the village?
I raise my hand and brush Myong Myong’s head.
“Thanks to you, I was able to get out of the forest. Thank you, Myong Myong.”
Having heard my words, Myong Myong lifted his head and looked at me in the eyes.
What a face…
I bring out a handkerchief and wipe off the tears from his face.
Even in middle of all these things, Myong Myong is still uncomfortable with getting help from me. He held the handkerchief himself and wiped his own tears.
He is a lot calmer than earlier now.
“I think I’ll be staying here for a while.”
“Yes. Near here. If it is alright with you, would you like to stay with me for a while?”
I am intending on forcing the existence called the Great Mother to wake up. However, I don’t know how long it would actually take.
Perhaps I will fail at waking her up and will have to wait for her to wake up through the ceremony that Lalalila mentioned.
“Yes. I would like you to cook meals for me, converse with me and go on walks with me while you are staying with me. Unless you don’t want to stay with…”
“Shall we get going then?”
His face finally brightened.
They say you will grow horns on your butt if you suddenly smile while crying. Still, it is good to see Myong Myong smile.
“Also, Myong Myong, I’ve heard about you a little from the village.”
His face darkened, back to how it was earlier. Oh my…
“The villagers said that the ghosts won’t appear around you anymore once the Great Mother wakes up.”
“Yes. Although we may have to wait for a bit until the Great Mother wakes up.”
Myong Myong is trying to hold it in, but he started crying again.
They are not tears of sadness.
They are tears of relief and happiness.
I hold Myong Myong in my arms and lull him.
* * *
I check the face of Myong Myong who is asleep in the sleeping bag, then got out of the tent.
He is not even well at the moment, and he cried whole day long. Perhaps, because of this, Myong Myong was very tired.
Using the food ingredients that the villagers packed for us, we haphazardly prepared food. I set up the tent and had Myong Myong go to sleep right away.
I summoned the souls to watch over the tent and head over to the mound that I saw during the day.
When I was inside the forest, thanks to the excessively lush trees, I could not see the sky.
There are so many stars in the sky. They look as if they could rain down. In the midst of all these stars is a moon.
It is a crescent moon.
As I walked while enjoying the night sky, I reach the mound.
I knew the way I needed to go.
I didn’t figure out the path that led to the Great Mother’s sleeping place from Lalalila.
However, I can pinpoint as to where to go with certainty.
I head to the place where humongous amounts of mana are being exuded energetically. There is a small opening. It is barely large enough for one person to go through.
In front of this small cave, there is incense and food. They seem to be traces of ceremonies.
This must be what Lalalila talked about.
Also, there were towers made of small rocks. They were piled up using pebbles the size of a palm.
There are writings in front of the towers.
Wishing for health, long life, happiness, eternal love…
It seems the towers were made by villagers, each of whom were praying for their small wishes.
I walked inside the cave.
The entrance is barely the size of a person’s height. However, as I walked in further, it became bigger. Eventually, the ceiling was over four meters tall.
At the end of the tunnel, I saw the Great Mother.
The Great Mother is a giant fox. She is lying down, her body curled up in a ball.
I am not sure how many tails she had. However, I can see many tails behind her body.
Immediately after confirming her existence, I drew the sword from the sheath and spread mana.
It is time to smack the sleepyhead who ignored the ringing alarm clock.
Your back! Present your back, Great Mother!
[Welcome, human with a humorous name.]
[Put your sword away. I am already awake.]