Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hero Without Blood or Tear Chapter 2


Red Dragon’s Fruit (2)
Translator: Rockgollem
Editor: Deux ex Machina, Perditor
After that, it took two full days to arrive at Havel river. The area was a vast swamp created by the overflowing river.


I needed to be careful in the swamp as this area had been occupied by a demon army. The swamp was divided into five areas and a “Witch of the Swamp” lorded over each area.
People called them “Havel’s Five Witches”.
“It’s here.”
The place I arrived at was one of the five areas; Gungel swamp. In demonic language, it meant “sticky”. A witch called Hejuju lived in this area, and she was quite peculiar.
She really liked ancient demonic history. She gave out questions based on this and gave a legendary potion to those who answered correctly and ate those who answered incorrectly.
In the past, while playing as a hero I managed to answer Hejuju’s questions correctly and received a potion. In other words, I knew what questions Hejuju was going to ask and the answers to those questions. The legendary potion was as good as mine.
I felt a tinge of fear at having to meet one of the fearsome witches of the swamp, but my greed towards the legendary potion was even bigger. With that one potion, I would be able to get out of this pitiful state and roam the Empire freely.
But I ran into a monster hunter just in front of the swamp.
“Young man, go back. Ahead is a den of demons, filled with all kinds of malice and evil.”
The way he was covered in blood and mud, it was quite apparent he had just finished hunting.
“Furthermore, the master of this swamp, Hejuju has just returned from a trip away from this swamp. I hurriedly escaped as well.”
This monster hunter seemed to hunt demons whenever the master of the swamp, Hejuju, left the place. He was a fairly capable person.
“I thank you for your warning, but I have herbs to gather.”
I gave a half baked excuse and walked past him.
The problem now was how to safely move across the swamp brimming with monsters, but the solution was simple.
You simply needed to follow the rules of someone bringing a tribute to the witch of the swamp. I knew well from past experience. The money from Valler’s uncle should be enough for a tribute.
“Let’s go.”
Snap
After snapping a branch off a hazel tree, I followed the designated path. The hazel tree branch served as the the sign someone was bringing a tribute.
Grrrr. Krrrrggh.
Beyond the swampy areas covered by fog, unknown noises flowed out endlessly. The monsters were definitely watching. But since I was bringing a tribute, they didn’t dare attack.
Sllllrrpp Sllllrrrp
There was even a sound of a monster with large mouth and tongue smacking his lips in anticipation for a taste. Hiigh, it was hair raising. I ignored the sounds with all my might and finally arrived at Hejuju’s hut.
“Oh Witch of the Swamp, I have brought you tribute.”
All kinds of disgusting smell greeted me once I opened the door and went inside. Amidst all kinds of miscellaneous wares, the witch Hejuju was boiling something in her cauldron.
“Such annoyance!”
Despite knowing that it was for a tribute, the fact she was unenthusiastic about it indicated she was annoyed about being interrupted. Inside the cauldron was suspicious green liquid with terrible stench. I became curious.
“May I ask what that is?”
“Hmph, would something like you understand just because I explain?”
But Hejuju didn’t seem to dislike that someone was showing interest in her work, so she explained.
“This is the new acid bomb I invented! If I combine the acid and a bomb together, it will be more powerful than ever before! Muhahaha! I will be rich if I am successful!”
“You are amazing.”
I sucked up to her enthusiastically. Thankfully, the witch didn’t dislike it.
“Of course! Be careful not to touch this. Or else there will be a big problem.”
“As you command.”
“Either way, what did you bring for the tribute?”
I respectfully presented the prepared pouch of money. Hejuju opened the pouch with her hand that had long, dirty and overgrown fingernails and smiled.
“A useful amount. So, what did you want with this tribute? It hasn’t been too long since you brought your last tribute.”
As expected, she mistook me for a villager from nearby area. Since I knew the rules to pass through the swamp, that was only logical.
“O Witch of the Swamp, what I wish for is to solve your questions and receive the prize.”
“What?”
Hejuju made an expression as if she heard something she had never anticipated.
“Hilarious. Do you really believe you’ll be able to solve the question? If you fail, I will devour you. If you were joking, I will forgive you for bringing this much tribute. Be gone!”
I begged once more at the witch who was shooing me away. I implored that I was so fascinated with the question that I was willing to risk my life on it.
“You are a truly strange child. Then, there’s no reason for me to not ask either.”
Hejuju could not hide her evil expression. In her head, I was probably already as good as dead.
“Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me. I was getting hungry while working anyways. I should be the one thanking you. Keheheh. Then listen well. There will be three questions on ancient history.”
“Yes.”
“What is the saying carved on the Great Naga Warlock Gram’s staff?”
Hejuju was overly confident. Her questions were based on rare information that only a select few demons had access to. How could a human being know any saying by Naga’s Great Warlock? Even further, they’ve existed only in the ancient times.
While I was playing the game, I obsessively studied demon history and culture to fight the stronger demons. <Guardian of Humanity> was a difficult game, so I had to study a lot.
Honestly, I probably knew more about the demon’s secrets than Hejuju, the witch of this swamp. That kind of question was boring.
“Return twice over for a favour, and ten times over for a grudge.”
When I answered immediately Hejuju’s eyes became wider.
“W, what? How does a mere human know that!”
“I have studied a little.”
“U, unbelievable. It’s just a coincidence. Next question. Where is the Demon Lord from 400 years ago, Pattuka’s grave?”
I could feel Hejuju’s confidence in me not  knowing the answer to this question. It was a question I was suppose to get wrong. Even some fairly high ranking demons didn’t know the answer to this question.
“It is hidden deep in the secretive Rem Valley in the demonic world.”
“What?!”
Again, I answered immediately and Hejuju began to shake all over. She pointed at me agitatedly  while shaking her staff.
“Who are you! How do you know that!”
“Next question please.”
“You dare!”
Hejuju put on a serious face and poised to ask a question which I would really have no way of knowing. The question was, once again, too easy for a demon expert like me.
“How many demon lords are currently active within the Empire?”
“Thirty three.”
Demon Lords were causing problems left and right but there were also those working from within the shadows. It was no easy feat to account for all of them. But after having played this game countless times, there was no way I wouldn’t know the answer to this question. Hejuju lost her composure when I replied thirty three immediately.
“What… where did something like you appear from?”
Even though her hands were shaking, Hejuju took out a pouch from her inner pocket. She tossed it over to me.
“Here is a legendary potion they call Dragon’s Fruit. Even trash like you will be reborn if you take it. Hmph! Take it. I have made a promise on my name to reward anyone who correctly answers the questions. I have no intention of breaking that promise.”
“Thank you.”
I picked up the Dragon’s Fruit Hejuju had handed over. In the past, while playing as a guardian, I simply killed Hejuju after taking the potion, but since I didn’t have the strength to do so this time, it was time to retreat.
“Then…”
Hejuju called me over while I was trying to leave.
“Wait.”
When I turned around after feeling an ill-premonition, Hejuju was smiling at me like an evil spirit. And her staff was pointing my way.
“I handed over the Dragon’s Fruit as promised. But I never said I would let you go freely.”
It was strange. In my past plays as a guardian, I received the Dragon’s Fruit and that was the end. She didn’t act petty like now.
No, is it because I’m an easy target right now? The reason she did nothing when I was a guardian was because she was too weak to do anything to me?
“This is different from what you promised!”
“I never broke my promise!”
Hejuju shouted and fired a beam from her magic staff towards me. That was the end. I lost consciousness as I felt a sensation as if my soul was flying off.
***
“Mmmmhh….”
The moan was probably coming out of my mouth. My body felt heavy as if it weighed a ton. Loud gossiping noise from nearby forced me to open my eyes.
“Kekeke! We haven’t had a feast in a while! I can’t stop salivating.”
“It’s still young, so it’ll be soft and tender. Shriveled up and old ones smell and taste bad.”
I realized the situation I was in. Cold sweat rolled down. I squinted my eyes open to look ahead. There were five repugnant looking witches chattering away with a gigantic cauldron in the middle.
No, seriously, what the hell kind of a situation is this.
Looking at the cauldron, it looked as if they were planning to cook me in it. I scanned around to confirm that this was some sort of a cavern. There were human bones piled high along with miscellaneous wares in the cavern.
“Urgh.”
I tried to struggle around, but it was useless as my arms were tied behind me. I felt around with my hand to see if I could grab anything. Finally,I touched something sharp like a broken bone.
But the next moment, I could only freeze like a frog that saw a snake. One of the witches was staring at me. My heart dropped.
“It’s awake.”
“What?”
At the word of the witch staring at me, all the other witches turned towards me. They were all hideous.
“Just wait few more moments, child. We’ll gobble you up delicious after deboning you.”
“Kekeke! His heart is mine!”
“Then the thigh’s mine!”
“You always liked the chewy cut for some reason.”
They all started arguing over herbs and ingredients to put into the cauldron.
“The males have a rank smell to them, you need to put in plenty of rosemary!”
“Shut up! Didn’t you know I hate the smell of rosemary? You idiot!”
Taking a look at the situation, I still had a bit of time before being turned into a feast. What did I need to do? I desperately thought over what I knew about Havel’s five sister witches.
I recalled despite looking rather friendly, they did not have a good relation with each other. They were the type of people who couldn’t hide their ugly jealousy over each other.
Each of their names were: Hejuju, Kaldura, Pugul, Gunda and Oldaina. The Witches of the Swamp were infamous subjugation targets, so I had ran into them one way or another in the game.
I remembered their dialogue from back then. And I realized I could play them against each other.
Boosh Boosh
While thinking, I was using my hands and that sharp bone to cut through the rope that was tied around my hands.Speaking of which, I was completely naked. They were treating me more like a piece of meat than like a person.
Snap!
“It’s strange though.”
All the witches were looking at me as if they had never expected me to open my mouth.
“What? What’s that thing saying?”
“Hejuju-nim, you said you wouldn’t invite Pugul-nim, but why did you bring her anyways? Didn’t you say Pugul-nim would eat too much and ruin the party?”
“What? What nonsense are you spouting, you maniac?”
Hejuju was taken aback, but the witch called Pugul was already bright red with anger. She had inherited an ogre’s blood, one of her ancestors, so she was particularly large. All the other witches were laughing away at the situation. I took the opportunity to continue running my mouth.
“Gunda-nim, didn’t you have a magical reagent stolen couple of days ago?”
“Huh? What! How did you know!”
“That’s because Hejuju-nim stole it with her familiar. If you open up that toad over there, you’ll find your lost property in the stomach.”
Once I had the initiative all kinds of memories from past quests came back. I shouted out the information as they came, and the witches started pulling at each other’s hair.
“Why is my stuff coming out of your toad’s stomach?!”
“How should I know!”
“You thief!”

“You bitch!”
The five witches who ruled over the swamp were locked into a melee with each other. They at least held off on using magic as a sort of an unwritten rule to not cross the line. If they started using magic, it would assure mutual destruction.
I quickly got up and pushed Hejuju who was showing her back towards me.
“Die!”
Right into that gigantic cauldron with boiling water inside.
Splash!
Hejuju launched straight into the boiling water.
“Kuaaaaaah!”
A screeching cry erupted. But I didn’t stop. I picked up the staff Hejuju dropped and smacked down at her forehead that came out of the water.
“You bitch!”
Thwack!
After taking the hit square on the head, she sunk below once again. However, she managed to float back up again and I struck down again. My emotions exploded out.
“What the hell did you say, you hag? You’re going to eat me?”
Thwack!
At that moment, the magic staff broke with a mighty crack. And from the broken staff, flame started sprouting out uncontrollably.
Woosh
That wasn’t all. With a pew pew noise, something like fireworks started coming out of the staff’s broken area.
“Guaaaaahhh!”
One of the witch’s hair caught on fire and she rolled around. The situation turned into chaos in an instant. I threw the staff at the witches and scooped all the reagents on the table with my two arms to fling into the fire.
Boom! Bang! Kablam!
Chain explosion erupted. The cavern was in absolute anarchy.
“You rotten hags! You’re all dead!”
Raging over the fact I was almost eaten so humiliatingly, I was in a state of frenzy.


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