Raidou -or Misumi Makoto-, his close aides, and also the demi-humans that are working in the store are using their special abilities and goods in the Kuzunoha Company. This was steadily increasing its reputation.
But there’s other people aside from them that hold that name on their back as they do their best.
This is the story of one of them.
“Ah, Kuzu is here!”
Loud voices resonate in the forest.
The first ones to welcome the man that crossed the gate of the village were the running children.
This place is deep in a forest that’s not affiliated to any country.
It is not a village that is close to a forest, but a village that is in a forest.
In this village that doesn’t receive much visitors, the dark skinned man smiled and returns their greetings as he walks with them following him around.
Even when he is slender, he was carrying big luggage yet wasn’t staggering at all as he walked with steady steps.
While he was walking, he greeted the villagers there in good heart and was kind towards the children.
His legs were heading towards a relatively big house, the house of the village chief.
As one can tell by the reactions of the villagers and the childrens, this is not the first time that this man comes here.
He would mostly come once or twice a month.
“Glad to see you here, Kuzunoha Company’s Ririto-sama. My grandfather is waiting.”
A small girl of around ten years old had come to the entrance and receives the man with her head lowered.
The name of the man is Ririto, a Forest Oni. But well, there’s not a single one in this village that knows of the name of that race though.
And he is also a member of the Kuzunoha Company that the otherworldler Misumi Makoto created.
Right now, he has come here under the name of that company.
“Well well, young lady, thank you for the kind reception.” (Ririto)
“I am the future village chief after all. This much is a matter of course.”
“By the way, how did you know I would be coming?” (Ririto)
“That’s because, uhm…just a moment ago…”
“Hey Captain, was my message useful?! Was it useful?!”
Ririto received the greeting of the chief’s daughter that was putting on the airs of an adult, and then questions her in a slightly teasing manner.
It looks like, even though Ririto is a company member from the outside, he is pretty close to her.
The girl was troubled in how to answer, and taking her place, the boy that appeared from the side said something that was close to the answer.
The girl that was called ‘Captain’ was dyed in bright red.
“Fufu, I see. Ojou-sama is the captain, right. So you received a hasty report from a reliable subordinate.” (Ririto)
“Geez, you idiot! It was supposed to go well!!”
The messenger boy probably came running full-throttle, his forehead had sweat flowing down.
He worked so hard, and yet, was called an idiot. He is a bit of an unreciprocated messenger.
His shocked and surprised voice was plenty enough to make people pity him.
“Now then, I will be greeting the chief, so see you later.” (Ririto)
“I am looking forward to the reward for the escort!”
“The store will be in the usual plaza, right?!”
“Okay, let’s go tell everyone in the village!!”
“Wait! I am the captain, you know?! Report about the security of the fields!!”
Ririto entering the house of the chief and the children leaving it happened at almost the same time.
Since the daughter of the chief left, Ririto proceeded inside alone.
“This village really doesn’t change. It is truly cheerful.” (Ririto)
The monologue Ririto muttered had a response given back.
It is the chief of this village.
“Chief-san, I was talking to myself there. Long time no see.” (Ririto)
“Don’t worry about it. The only ones who come to a remote village like this are the Kuzunohas. If on top of that you guys like the village, it makes me want to say my thanks.” (Chief)
“Please don’t mind it. We are doing this as a business after all.” (Ririto)
“Without even asking about the circumstances of a village inside a forest, you would always come at least once every month. There’s nothing as grateful as this. There’s no merchant who would regularly go deep inside forests after all.” (Chief)
“I am honored to be of use. I will be borrowing a corner of the plaza, so I came here to give my greetings. Also, I have a matter to talk to you about, so if you can lend me a bit of your time at night…” (Ririto)
“At night huh. Understood. Right, in that case, how about having dinner with us? Or might as well stay the night. I want to consult with you a bit about something after all.” (Chief)
The Chief says in a quite good-willed manner to the Forest Oni.
It seems the Kuzunoha Company is pretty loved in this village.
“Thanks. Ah, and also, if it is okay with you, use this.” (Ririto)
What was given to the chief was a small container —a teacup.
“Hm? A cup? This feeling of touch is a first for me. What is this?” (Chief)
“It is a container that is made from earth; it is called pottery. I apologize for offering one that I made as a hobby, but the result was relatively good, so I am giving them away to customers.” (Ririto)
“Earth. That’s quite the unusual thing. Must be made from quite the special magic.” (Chief)
“…No, not a single bit of magic was used in the making of it. It is a surprisingly fun thing to do, so I enjoy doing it in my free days covered in mud.” (Ririto)
“Oh! This isn’t an article made from magic?” (Chief)
“That’s right. It is easier to break than ironware, but I would say it has its own characteristic good points. Well then, I will be opening the store for a bit, and then come back.” (Ririto)
“Fumu, there’s really mysterious techniques out there.” (Chief)
“…I will be excusing myself.” (Ririto)
While making a wry smile in his heart looking at the Chief who was checking out the teacup in admiration, Ririto headed to the plaza.
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“They got me there. To think that they would propose a marriage interview. I was about to mistake the change.” (Ririto)
The temporary store of the Kuzunoha Company had been sold out prosperously and closed.
Just like always.
The surroundings were turning dark, and by the time the lights of fire could be seen here and there, Ririto was already in the house of the Chief.
“There are many people in the village that think ‘if only the Kuzunoha-sans would stay all the time at this Anode village’. Counting us here.” (Chief)
“I am truly happy that we are being accepted this much. Of course, I will be coming from here on as well to Anode village as the person in charge. I have to keep you guys in check so that you don’t fall sick after all.” (Ririto)
The Chief, his son that is serving as his assistant, his wife, and his granddaughter; the five of them -counting Ririto- were having a lively dinner and it had become a dinner where laughs were coming out constantly.
Even Ririto had a smile as he spoke.
“Oops, I was about to forget. Ririto-san, you said you had something to tell me, right? What is it?” (Chief)
“Thanks. Then, excuse me for a bit…” (Ririto)
Ririto stood up from his seat, and then, he unwraps the luggage that was left at a corner of the room.
This wrapping is called a wrapping cloth, and for the people of Kuzunoha that work in the peddling department, this is an essential tool.
What appeared was a wooden box that looked like a treasure box.
“I am thinking about leaving this in Chief’s house.” (Ririto)
“A treasure box…no, a chest?” (Chief)
“It is called a communication box. It is something that we are leaving only in the frequented villages under permission. With this box, it is possible to get in contact with us.” (Ririto)
The eyes of the Chief were showing slight caution.
It is obvious.
He is in the standing of chief, so it is understandable that he would show doubts in leaving an unknown magic tool, whose effects and origins are not clear, in his village.
Since those doubts were still not coming out as words, Ririto decided on continuing the explanation.
First, he opened the box and showed the inside.
The inside had partition plates, dividing it in 9 spaces, and there was nothing inside them.
“The inside is like this. Putting it simply, when required, you can put this in the frames.” (Ririto)
Ririto takes out a cloth bag from inside his pocket and takes out a black ball he shows to the chief.
“Meaning that if you put this black ball inside, we will know.” (Ririto)
“It is called ‘communication’, but it is not as if we will be exchanging words. It is more like a smoke signal of sorts huh.” (Chief)
“It doesn’t let out smoke though, but yeah, it is something like that. For example; in the case where a patient with a sudden illness needs medicine, or there’s some sort of accident or a natural disaster where you are in need for goods, you can use this. A person of the company will be sent, at the slowest, by the next day.” (Ririto)
“The next day?! That’s fast. Umu… It is true that being able to come in moments when the village is in need would be good, but…as expected, I can’t make an immediate decision. I trust the Kuzunoha-sans, but I can’t leave a magic tool inside the village without the opinion of everyone.” (Chief)
“Yeah, of course. We are not in a hurry for an answer. You can answer us the next time we come, or even by the time after. If you don’t want to leave it here, we will still be coming for business as usual, so don’t worry.” (Ririto)
Ririto didn’t show any signs of being offended by the apologetic words of the chief, and while maintaining his smile, he accepts his words.
The casual talk continued again for a while more, and even when the dinner finished, it transitioned to drinking, and the talk didn’t show any signs of ending.
The granddaughter of the chief was doing her best to stay awake and was nodding as she was listening to the talk of Ririto with her parents and grandfather, but she finally began to doze off, and fell asleep slightly before everyone else.
Watching his granddaughter being carried by her mother and leaving, the Chief glanced at Ririto, stood up from his seat, and left the room.
Ririto nods at the chief’s son who serves as the assistant, and followed after the chief.
“Sorry about that. My granddaughter looks forward to the Kuzunoha-sans coming and was quite excited. I ended up allowing her to sleep late. You can go ahead and laugh at me for being a soft old man.” (Chief)
“I also passed a fun night. By the way, did you have something to talk about that required clearing out everyone else?” (Ririto)
“…Yeah. I have heard the Kuzunoha Company does business with remote places like us and demi-human villages. Does Ririto-san also jump around pretty often?” (Chief)
“Yes. I am in charge of around ten settlements. My job is to go around villages as well as stocking up.” (Ririto)
“Of course, those ten settlements you speak of are from around this place, right?” (Chief)
“That’s right. Since I am going to each place in order, the places we are in charge of are mostly close to each other.” (Ririto)
“Then, I want you to hear me out for a bit. Around 40 kilometers west from here, there’s a village, you see.” (Chief)
“Yeah, a demi-human village. I stopped by that village before coming here.” (Ririto)
“…Oh, so you were already aware of their existence huh. I wanted to consult about that village.” (Chief)
The expression of the chief darkened.
“Is it a talk regarding a number of villagers being injured?” (Ririto)
“Hngh. Yeah, that’s right. It is a village that we haven’t done any exchanges with once before, and only a few in our village know about the existence of that village. I thought it would stay like that from now on as well. But a number of our hunters left to the forest and returned with wounds made by weapons. The wounds itself can be healed by the medicine of the Kuzunoha-sans, but…” (Chief)
“You think that this was the work of the demi-humans huh.” (Ririto)
“There’s no mamonos that use weapons around these areas. The only ones who are suspicious are them.” (Chief)
“Actually…there were injured in their side as well. They asked me about this village, but I told them that the Anode village has no reason to do something like that, and had cleared up the suspicions just recently. To think that this village had something similar happen.” (Ririto)
“…The demi-humans as well? That’s…” (Chief)
“This forest is not under the supervision of the country, so, putting it bluntly, it is an outlaw land. It is plenty possible for people of the outside to come here, take me for instance.” (Ririto)
“True, that’s also a possibility huh. There’s demi-humans like the ones in the Kuzunoha-sans, so prejudice is no good. It is a pretty hard thing to fix though…” (Chief)
“I will try to investigate and report to you the next time I come. Is that alright?” (Ririto)
“Sorry about that. How much would it cost?” (Chief)
“I will be charging for the actual expenses, so I don’t think it would cost much, though I can’t speak about the specific cost right now though.” (Ririto)
Ririto said he can’t say about the specific cost, but he immediately answered that it would be the actual expenses.
The Chief made a surprised expression for a moment, but he soon nodded several times.
“Since things are like this, I don’t mind if at first it is only an investigation. But I didn’t expect you to accept the task as if nothing. So the words Ririto-san said when you first came to the village about ‘undertaking anything’ were true huh.” (Chief)
“Only things that our company can do, that is. Anode village is a frequent customer, so we will be jumping to action as soon as possible. Even if it is a situation that I can’t resolve myself, we have skillful people in Kuzunoha, so please rest at ease.” (Ririto)
“The Kuzunoha-sans also deal with mercenaries? With the ability of being able to order medicines, clothes, and many other detailed stuff; have to say, big companies are truly impressive.” (Chief)
“I am simply going to be asking my coworkers that work in dangerous areas. We don’t offer mercenary services, and in terms of our scale, I would say…we have finally crossed the mid-size? We are practically a beginner company.” (Ririto)
Since the Forest Onis lived in a dangerous area that’s called the World’s Border, there’s actually many in the Forest Onis who would surpass the ability of the average mercenary, but Ririto didn’t explain that much.
“I would like to speak to a superior of yours at least once.” (Chief)
“Thanks. I will definitely tell this to my superiors. Also, about the matter of the box before, the ball is of one use, and we will be charging for replenishing them, so please use them with care.” (Ririto)
“Hoh, charging huh.” (Chief)
“The first one will be free of charge though. There were a number of cases where we left boxes in other villages and they used them as a joke after all. The objective of this is not for constant calls, but for emergency situations, so we ended up having to charge for them now. Sorry. If you allow us to leave it here, I will be reducing the price of the goods sold in the village a bit, so we want it to not be a loss on your side. Please pardon us.” (Ririto)
“We will be the ones calling you people in a hurry, so I don’t really mind. Understood.” (Chief)
“Thanks. Then, I have to make preparations for the investigation as well, so let’s leave the invitation for staying the night to another occasion. Thanks for the meal.” (Ririto)
“Okay. Ririto-san, there’s no need to be so formal with—he is not here anymore.” (Chief)
The chief was about to stop Ririto who had stood up.
But he was already not there.
Wind blew for a bit in the room and grazed the cheek of the chief.
“I will have the villagers refrain from going out for a bit, and make the field work and security half and half. It depends on the investigation of the Kuzunoha-sans, but it might get a bit noisy around here. Ririto is a person that can bring luggage to this village alone, so he must also be quite the strong person, and yet, there’s people higher than him huh. When this matter is over, let’s try properly requesting Ririto-san to meet with his superior and their representative.” (Chief)
The old man that was left in the room had his hand placed on his chin and was thinking about how to deal with things at present.
The small Anode village that’s deep deep within a forest and is not affiliated to any country.
The Kuzunoha Company was involved even with such places.
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“Well then, the culprit for both incidents is most likely the same. Even I alone would probably be enough…no, I have to report it. Let’s leave the decision to after I have consulted with the higher-ups. It is right in schedule after all.” (Ririto)
Inside the darkness of the night, Ririto mutters while sitting on the branch of a specially big tree.
He silently closed his eyes and confirms that the thought transmission had connected with his superior.
(Ah, it is Ririto. Tomoe-sama, there’s actually a matter that I would like extra hands for. Yes, there was an incident in two of the villages I am in charge of where a number of people were injured…… And so, I was wondering if I could get some hands for the investigation. Two winged-kin and two Gorgons? N-No, I don’t think it is an opponent that requires so much!) (Ririto)
Ririto was properly erasing his presence, but an unexpected development happened in the conversation with his superior, making his balance crumble for a bit.
Luckily, he was at a slightly faraway location from both the hyuman village of Anode and from the demi-human village, so no one saw him.
(To accustom them to the outside huh. Okay, if that’s why… Yes, both of the villages know that I am a demi-human. There’s no problem in that. Understood……. No way! Please don’t apologize. This is not the first time I will be teaching newbies. I will show you that I can do it properly. Eh, me training to work at the store in Rotsgard? …I currently want to continue my outside work like this. Ah, only in holidays? If that’s the case, I would be glad to. Ah…that as well huh. Leaving aside Akua, I would say that it would be wiser to make Eris just serve customers that would like being served by her. Yes. Then, I will be meeting those four at the usual place. It would be a great help. Well then, I will be excusing myself.) (Ririto)
A sigh comes out from the mouth of Ririto.
For him, his superior Tomoe is a person that would make him nervous even when it is only to do reports.
But there’s a decent amount of expectation for him.
That’s the kind of conversation it was.
“Training will be in the mornings, and in the afternoon, I will be the one teaching huh. Well, in Rotsgard there’s no doubt gonna be the new desserts of Waka-sama and Shiki-sama, so I am looking forward to it. Since winged-kins will be helping out in the investigation, it probably won’t be too difficult, so for my plans in the weekend…” (Ririto)
The Forest Oni Ririto, that does his best in the peddling department of the Kuzunoha Company, currently hasn’t participated in battle and doesn’t have much achievements that stand out, but he is constantly going from village to village of frequent customers and obtaining trust, so for the Kuzunoha Company, he is an important member of the working field.
They are the shadow that spread the name of the Kuzunoha Company that Makoto’s store spreads from the surface.
The peddler unit is called in a friendly manner as the Kuzunoha-sans, and they jump around from place to place everyday in this way.