Aeris is coming! Chiharu was shocked. Midland was Arthur’s country. They had discussed going to the dwarf country first, and the elf country was supposed to come later. And they had never heard anything about sending troops to the dungeons.
She wanted to ask questions, but now did not seem like the right time.
“Signal us if something happens. We’ll take you away if you ever need to leave.”
“Okay, thank you.”
“Thanks for the bags.”
Sauro and Saikania slapped the pouches around their waist and smiled. Then they glanced quickly at Kaider and Nyran and flew away.
“Norfe, Chouze, why are you…”
Maki and Chiharu answered Kaider.
“We know those bird people. They are friends with Orne.”
“You didn’t know, Kaider? Birdfolk often play with children in Midland.”
“Is that so?”
He had indeed seen many birdfolk flying around the port towns.
“Now, will you introduce us to an inn?”
“Ah, yes. It’s close to the station where we’ll stop.”
There was a large inn there.
“Cozy inns are nice as well, but these bigger places have great facilities and the people leave you alone. And it’s pretty safe as well.”
“Thank you. We’ll stay here.”
“Don’t do anything crazy, okay?”
“Kaider, we’re grateful and all, but you can’t watch over us forever, you know? And it would be easier for us if you let us go.”
Nyran came in again.
“Goodbye then. We’re going to go sell these mermaid scales!”
“Alright, see you later.”
Kaider looked worried as he walked away. It was just the two of them in a foreign country. They could at least read and write, but they had really been thankful that the dwarf looked out for them. But Maki felt that a 14-year-old needed to at least show this much independence. Chiharu chuckled as she watched Maki do her best 14-year-old boy acting.
The inn really was big. It had two floors and half of the first floor and the entire second floor were rooms. The rest of the space was for the dining hall and bar. But it was wide enough that they could avoid getting tangled with drunkards.
“Okay, what should we do, Chiharu?”
“I think we have no choice but to move to plan B.”
“Already, huh? I guess you are right.”
“We will have to go out into town tomorrow.”
“We’ll do that then.”
While it was late, they went to the dining hall to see how it was like. There didn’t seem to be any rude customers here. As they ordered a dinner of soup, bread, and boiled meat:
“Uh, I’m 14 years old. Can I get a drink?”
“Can you drink? I wouldn’t recommend it, but you aren’t restricted by age.”
“Okay, so what do you have?”
“The apple wine is popular. The stuff here is known for being very tart. Also, we have ale from the human territories.”
“Then I’ll have two ales.”
“Coming right up!”
Their drinks arrived.
“Ahh, we are finally free!”
“Sort of. Cheers!”
They clinked their wooden mugs together. They had been served wine back at the castle, but never ale. So this was their first time drinking it.
The ale bubbled gently in their mouths. It wasn’t chilled, but there was a scent of grain and mild bitterness. It felt like a waste to drink it in one gulp, so they slowly savored it until their dinner arrived.
They started on the boiled meat first. The chunk was about half the size of a fist and was light on fat and very soft. The blocks of root vegetables that were cooked with the meat were also soft. They broke them up with a knife and fork as they ate. And took sips of ale in between. And then they when that was done, they wiped their plates with the bread to finish the meal.
As the two of them ate, they realized that half the people in the dining hall were drinking.
“Look, Maki-chan. There are quite a lot of women here too.”
“Yeah. I don’t see any human women, but there are plenty of dwarves here drinking.”
“It’s similar to a bar in Japan.”
“It is. I think plan B might just work then.”