TGL Volume 5, Chapter 8 (4)

I wonder what’ll happen when the supervisor shows up. My parents say he’s not invincible, but beating him will bring about dire consequences: the ruler will show up and teach us all a lesson. I imagine humiliating the supervisor will have the same result. Whether it’s beating him or humiliating him, it’s still questioning the ruler’s prestige. The ruler is ruthless; she has to be domineering to preserve her dignity. Humans, demons, and other beasts are waiting for her to show any sign of weakness. No one wants their freedom controlled by another person, and the ruler is the greatest deterrent to some people’s plans. They’ll do anything to get rid of her to satisfy their own desires. 

“If it’s not one thing it’s another,” a voice said from up above. The supervisor sure does like standing in the sky. I wonder if he has an inferiority complex that makes him compulsively take a higher position to look down on others. The supervisor swept his gaze over the crowd, and once again, I felt the familiar pressure that made me want to lower my head. Of course, I didn’t just want to lower my head; I did lower it. It’s the same concept as avoiding a teacher’s gaze; I’m simply not strong enough to handle the supervisor’s ire if I’m singled out. 

“Well?” the supervisor asked. “Is no one going to explain why I was woken up? Anyone?” 

“You shouldn’t have falsely accused someone of smuggling meat,” one of the transformed squirrels said. “We can ignore it if you blame someone for starting a fire or slapping someone around, but labeling someone as a meat smuggler is just too much!” 

There was a gasping sound, and I raised my head to find the source. One of the transformed squirrels was rising up with his arms pressed to his sides as if an invisible hand was holding him. The other transformed squirrels grabbed his legs and kept him rooted in place. I took a quick peek at the supervisor’s face, and as expected, he didn’t look very pleased. He jerked his hand, and the crowd grunted again as the bound squirrel rose even higher, lifting those who were holding him down. More hands grabbed more ankles. The crowd of transformed squirrels was collectively resisting the supervisor’s technique. 

“Are all of you really going to go against me for a half-human squirrel? Are you out of your minds?” The supervisor frowned. “Do you think I threw her into the prison without investigating first? I know she’s been handing out sizable portions of meat daily for the past few days. None of you even tried to hide it. If you’re going to commit a crime, at the very least, don’t be stupid about it.” 

“Teacher Fluffytail didn’t commit any crimes,” the bound squirrel said. “She gave us meat out of her own free will. She didn’t make us pay for it, and she didn’t expect anything when she gave it out. It’s not a crime to own meat; it’s only a crime to sell it without a license!” 

The supervisor snorted. “My judgement has never been wrong before,” he said. “I know it’s hard, but use your heads for a moment. Do you honestly expect me to believe someone would give away meat for free? Every day, she handed out enough meat to rent a top-class tree for over a decade. Have you ever seen a selfless squirrel before? Unless she was planning on getting something from all of you, there’s no way she’d give out meat for free!” 

“But she’s not all squirrel,” the bound squirrel said. “She’s partially human as well.” 

“That makes even less sense,” the supervisor said, his lips curling upwards to form a snarl. “Humans are even greedier than squirrels, and their appetites are insatiable. Rather than handing out free meat, it’d be easier to believe she was killing squirrels to turn them into meat!” The supervisor exhaled and lowered his hand, and the bound squirrel dropped back to the ground. “If you used your brains for just one second, you’d realize she’s already bribed all of you. Think about why you’re here in the first place. She gave you meat, and now you’re defending her. Without any of you even realizing it, she’s already deceived everyone here. For all we know, she could be sent by the humans to cause unrest. Perhaps she’s part of an even bigger plot targeting the ruler.” 

“That’s where you’re wrong,” a very familiar voice said. Was that my mom? “Lucia’s a squirrel, and like all squirrels, she’s not capable of thinking that far ahead!” My mom looked around at the crowd and raised her arms. “What’s the number one reason for why squirrels do something wrong?” 

“Because we don’t think!” 

My mom nodded. “Then, why did Lucia give everyone meat?” 

“Because she didn’t think!” 

My mom placed her hands on her hips and looked up at the supervisor. The supervisor’s expression darkened. “Not all squirrels are brainless morons like you lot!” he said. “For one, I think all the time, and I’d much rather arrest an innocent person than let a guilty one go free!” 

“Ha-hah! We’re free!” someone shouted from way off to the side. It sounded like it came from the prison. I turned my head to take a look, and my thoughts were confirmed. A squirrel stepped out of the prison’s entrance and froze. He stumbled forward when another squirrel bumped into him. Then, he turned around and ran back inside the prison, causing multiple curses and shouts to fly out. 

“What’s the big idea? Stop pushing!” 

“The supervisor! The supervisor’s outside!” 

“What!? Was he waiting for us this whole time!?” 

Scrambling sounds came out of the prison, and bumps and clangs echoed through the air. Then, the prison gradually fell silent. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on, but the majority of the squirrels around me were clueless; the supervisor, however, was not. His eyes widened as he swooped down, flying straight through the prison’s entrance like a bird flying through a hoop. I think the protest we organized to help Senior Fluffytail ended up screwing over her prison break instead.

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