The Beast Lord and the Blue Cat Tribe
Rigdis had already lost the will to fight. Likewise, Fran had done the same despite still being on guard. The reason for her sudden change in attitude was because Royce, one of the Beast Lord’s guards, had started healing Zefmate.
「Your Majesty, did you perhaps forget to inform her as to the current circumstances?」
Roche immediately began questioning the Beast Lord’s actions, or rather, the likely lack thereof.
「Hah… Let me guess. You provoked her by acting in your usual cocky manner without actually telling her what had happened?」
「Do you have any injuries, young lady?」
「That’s good. So, exactly what kind of relationship do you have with Blue Pride?」
「Zefmate… Friends. Hate rest.」
「Ah, I understand now. As for you, Your Majesty…」
「I know, I get it already. My bad, alright?」
「So? Why wanted to kill Zefmate?」
「’Cause he tried to protect his buddies.」
「Hah… Allow me to explain.」
Roche gave us a detailed explanation of exactly what had happened.
Much to our surprise, Rigdis was against the enslavement of Black Catkin. In fact, he’d been going around freeing as many Black Catkin slaves as he happened across.
That precise action had caused an ideological rift to form between him and his father. The rift was so vast that he’d almost gotten disowned,so he ended up organising a coup d’etat, murdering his father, and claiming the throne with his own two hands.
It was an act that he’d always suspected he might need to perform, and to that end, he’d joined the Adventurer’s Guild, tempered his body, and secretly built up his connections. The only reason his coup had gone as smoothly as it did was because he’d managed to make every single last one of the Beast Kingdom’s A or higher ranked adventurers into his subordinates.
Upon his ascension to the throne, Rigdis had promptly purged all of the spies and slave merchants formerly connected to the royal family. He’d then gone out on a mission in order to find all slave merchants outside the bounds of his country so he could free every single last Black Catkin that remained in captivity.
「But fought Zefmate? Why?」
If that really were the case, then him fighting Zefmate didn’t really make sense. The two seemed like they’d get along from an ideological standpoint.
Or at least it did until one considered that Blue Pride was effectively Zefmate’s family. He couldn’t assent to allowing the Beast Lord to murder any of its members, even if they happened to betray his ideals. The Blue Leopardkin had ended up begging Rigdis to let Blue Pride’s members keep their lives so he could rehabilitate them and fix their ways.
As the Beast Lord was rather short tempered, he ended up flaring up in anger and engaging Zefmate in combat upon hearing what he could only interpret as an excuse. That was when Fran had thrown herself into the equation.
Hearing the Beast Lord’s side of things made me realize something. His manner of speech was crude, but he’d never actually said anything to belittle the Black Cat Tribe as a whole.
He had said, “So I take it you’re siding with him? Even though you’re a Black Catkin?” not because he wanted to insult Fran, but because he thought it was odd for a Black Catkin to want to side with the type of people that sold their kind into slavery.
The same pretty much applied to when he’d said, “Hahahah! What is this? A Black Catkin and a Blue Catkin acting all buddy buddy? Man, that’s so funny it actually makes me kinda pity you guys!” It came off like a sort of cheap provocation, but was actually far from it. He hadn’t actually meant to insult the Black Cat tribe in any which way..
The Beast Lord’s intentions were further evidenced by how subordinates had ended up capturing Blue Pride’s members while we were attempting to engage him in combat.
Zefmate groaned remorsefully.
「Hate me all you want. Just know that this is your own fault. I told all you Blue Catkin to stop with the slavery shit already, but your underlings ignored my orders and kept their black market dealings going anyways. And you didn’t even notice. Seriously man, that one’s all on you.」
A fair bit of Zefmate’s regret stemmed precisely from the fact that he understood that he’d failed. He would’ve been able to avoid this whole mess had he just kept a tighter leash on his subordinates.
「How many… are still alive?」
「Approximately twenty, I believe.」
「Lord Rig, I’ve found the pair behind the whole incident.」
Goldalfa entered the scene with a pair of Blue Catkin in tow. And when I said in tow, I meant they were literally in tow. He was dragging them along the ground with the very same piece of rope their hands were tied by.
「These two are both connected to the Slavery Syndicate your predecessor managed.」
「Sennek, Tord, were you two really responsible for manipulating everyone into doing all this?」
「Hmph! Why the hell should we care about Black Catkin? Why do we have to go through all this for just turning them into slaves? They can’t even evolve!」
「Yeah, I know right! All we were doing was making use out of an otherwise useless bunch!」
The two old Blue Catkin spouted off bold claim after bold claim.
Both were members of the many mercenary groups that’d come together to create Blue Pride. They’d functioned as something along the lines of consultants ever since the new organisation’s formation. They’d always been in positions of power within every band they’d ever been a part of, and thus, managed to use them in order to engage in the underground slave market.
The two had intentionally raised Zefmate to feel repulsed by the slave trade. They’d done so because it then made it easier for them to fool those that they wished to hide the true nature of their business from. His sister, on the other hand, had been brought up in the exact opposite manner. The two had effectively brainwashed her to have her current scumbag-like mindset.
The Blue Leopardkin likely would have been able to notice that something about his band of mercenaries was off had the two not constantly been one or two steps ahead of him — they’d trained him to not only be pure of heart, but also the type of person that wouldn’t doubt his comrades.
「But I guess we went a bit too far. We trained you so well you became unable to shake that stupid sense of justice of yours.」
Sennek attempted to mock Zefmate, but was hit right in his sore spot by Rigdis in retaliation.
「Says a no-tail.」
「How dare you!」
『What’s a no-tail?』
（Long-tailed beastkin without tail.）
Longer tailed beastkin species put great importance on keeping one’s tail, as losing it typically implied cowardice. Thus, those that were supposed to have tails but didn’t were mocked as no-tails.
It normally wasn’t too much of an issue as one could recover a chopped off tail so long as it was immediately treated with either magic or potions, but, in cases where one’s injuries were more severe, priority was instead given to the limbs and whatnot. As a result, those with a lesser degree of access to healing would end up permanently losing their tails.
The old man known as Sennek appeared to be precisely someone that’d ended up in that kind of scenario. I’d thought that he’d just hidden his tail away in his pants, but apparently that simply wasn’t something that long tailed Beastkin with tails would actually do for reasons I failed to intuit.
Getting called out by the Beast Lord had, for some odd reason, caused Sennek to glare in Fran’s direction.
「I would still have my tail if not for you meddling Black Catkin…!」
「Fuck! How dare you look down on me like that? And with a face that looks just like that annoying brat’s to boot!?」
「Yeah, fuck her! Fuck Kiara for taking my god damned tail! And fuck you for looking just like her!」
「Of course I fucking do! Fuck her to hell!」
It seemed Sennek hated the Black Cat Tribe because Kiara had caused him to hold some sort of grudge. That, in turn, explained why he’d purposefully raised all the Blue Catkin around him to see Black Catkin the way they did.
「But you know what, it’s fine. I don’t care anymore, because that bitch got sent right off to the Beast Lord! Hah! Probably got turned into a slave and forced into a straight up living hell alright. Gyahahahah! Bitch got right what was coming to her!」
Fran immediately approached Sennek with me drawn and in hand.
『Wait, Fran! Hold on! Don’t kill him!』
Ending his life here and now seemed like an act that could potentially anger the Beast Lord and his bros. To them, Sennek still had value, as he likely knew about others that worked in his trade.
Convinced, Fran sheathed me and instead started pummeling both men with her fists. I realized that she’d went too far by the time their already old, twisted faces had ended up even more deformed and bent out of shape than they were before. I figured it’d be best for me to stop her, but the Beast Lord actually beat me to the punch.
「Hold on kid. Hey, you assholes. When you said Kiara, did you mean the old lady? You know, Grandma Kiara?」