“So does that mean you know of the Wind-reader tribe?” Maomao asked Kulumu.
The self-proclaimed beautiful girl crossed her arms and groaned. “Rather than know, apparently that was what we’re called in my great grandfather’s time when we’re still living on the grasslands. Well, that’s what my grandma says all the time, but I don’t know much myself.”
“Can you tell me what you know?”
“Ehhh, I wonder?”
When Maomao lowered herself, Kulumu got cocky.
“I won’t tell you for free,” the girl said, requesting money with a grin.
“Fufu, do you wish to be handed over to the officials?”
Eyes that reminded people of a raptor flashed behind Kulumu. Taomei was watching with a smile. For some reason, Basen who wasn’t related froze up in horror and the owl ruffled up its feathers and trembled.
Kulumu’s face stiffened.
As expected of the domineering wife of the submissive Gaoshun.
Maomao cleared her throat theatrically. “…I did plan to offer you a concession. You answer the questions. I won’t hand you to the officials. Again, how we’ll deal with it afterwards will depend on…”
“Yes, what we will do with this owl will, too, depend on the agreement we reach through the discussion.” Taomei continued Maomao’s answer.
“…got it. What I heard from my grandma was that a long time ago the nomadic tribe got hunted by slavers. I heard the slavers killed the majority of them, married the women, and put the children into slavery,” Kulumu said.
Maomao was aware of this information. But there was one thing she was interested in. “I heard the Wind-reader tribe used birds. Does it mean that their technique of hatching and raising birds is still passed down today?”
“About that. Ahh, I phrased it badly. The Wind-reader tribe was destroyed. The half that split away was.”
“H-half?” Maomao and the others stared at Kulumu.
“Yaah. They were travelling around the grasslands carrying out rituals and stuff, yeah? If so, wouldn’t it be better to move about separately than in one group? They could communicate through birds too.”
Maomao nodded in agreement. “But what happened to the remaining half? It seems the Wind-reader tribe is already taken as gone. Did they stop upholding the ritual?”
“Mmn. I have no idea. My great grandfather was part of the surviving tribe, but he died when my grandma was ten. Grandma said that he taught her a lot about birds, but they lived in town, not out on the pastures anymore. As long as there was a regular patron buying the pigeons they raised, they had no troubles with eating.”
“Who knows. I was told it was some big shot, but I didn’t hear the details. Rather, Grandma didn’t seem like she knew much either.”
Everyone fell silent at Kulumu’s testimony.
“Huh? Did I say something weird?” the girl asked.
“…no, thank you very much.”
Would this be like a horse coming out of a gourd, something said as a joke actually happening? She thought that the girl might have some connection with the Wind-reader tribe, but she was, beyond expectations, at the heart of it.
“Hey hey? Can I take the owl back? I found the perfect place to release it, you know,” Kulumu said.
“You got it back and yet you’re going to release it?” Maomao asked.
“I was planning to do that from the start. Grandma’s teachings.”
Maomao exchanged looks with Taomei. Taomei nodded, so Maomao passed the cage containing the bird to Kulumu. The girl smiled widely.
“Can I ask one more question?” Maomao asked.
“What is it?” Kulumu, as if she was in a good mood from having the bird back, said while baring a fang.
“You mentioned that your father is a relative of Gyoku’ou-sama’s mother. Would it be fine to acknowledge that his mother is also part of the Wind-reader tribe?”
“I can’t guarantee that… but I think she liked birds and was used to handling them.”
From that, assuming Gyoku’ou’s mother part of the Wind-reader tribe, it produces various relationships.
(I got useful information, though.)
There were various contradictions if she were to believe Kulumu’s words.
(If the Wind-reader tribe didn’t perish, wouldn’t they keep up with the ritual?)
It put the meaning of the former serf Nenjen’s work into question.
Then, why was the Wind-reader tribe destroyed?
There were suspicious points.
(As a possibility I can think of…)
Could it be that the Wind-reader tribe decided to perish, and use their abilities elsewhere?
(They would be powerful with their fast communication of information alone.)
If they had chosen to perish once and enclose themselves, there were many ways it could be used. It wouldn’t be odd considering how Kulumu’s grandmother was already living in town. Also, she could accept Kulumu’s great-grandfather’s early passing too.
(If even techniques end up inherited, people who know of the past will be a hindrance.)
“Hey, big sis. Can I go back now?”
When Kulumu poked her, Maomao recovered her senses. It seems she got lost in her thoughts.
“Sorry. Can you tell me your contact address? I might be able to introduce you to a client who’d want birds.”
“…Eh, how scary.”
Kulumu couldn’t be fooled by Maomao’s fake smile. As if I’ll let a precious source of information escape, was that the kind of face she was making?
“Fufu, don’t be cruel to children. Hey, can you introduce your father to us?” Taomei’s eyes glittered.
Kulumu gave a start, then nodded.
(This person is too strong.)
She was yet a different type to the madam and Suiren, though.
(That’s the reason why everyone is quiet.)
Chue wasn’t doing as she pleased as she usually did, and as for Basen, his face was similar to Gaoshun when he reached the state of selflessness. Was this how the current Gaoshun was made, Maomao wondered.
When Kulumu was sent back accompanied by a messenger manservant, Taomei looked at Maomao.
“From what I can see with your expression, it looks like you have thought of a number of things.”
The woman was speaking politely, but in frank terms, it was: “If you have something you figured out, spit it out.”
“It’s just a hypothesis. The contents might be nonsensical,” Maomao replied.
Maomao felt animosity towards her foster father Ruomen recently, but she was fundamentally loyal to his teachings.
“But my–our master doesn’t seek definite conclusions for each and everything. Our master is the type to saddle everything upon himself, but why don’t you talk about it once to work out a counter plan for what might occur from now on?”
Taomei regarded Maomao with raptor eyes, saying, “Spit it out now.”
“Then…” Maomao opened her mouth to say her report to their master, Jinshi.
“No, please talk to him in person,” Taomei said.
“I don’t think there’s a problem with saying it here though.”
Maomao didn’t think Taomei would twist her speculative words.
“No, it’s necessary to relax from time to time.”
Taomei gave a teasing smile. Maomao couldn’t only narrow her eyes.