Maki and Chiharu were tasting freedom again. Or more accurately,
“Oh, there are human boys.”
The stares seemed to say. But they were used to it, and so they did not care. They didn’t know if the position was still open, and so they needed to hurry.
Chiharu talked to Maki as they jogged towards the castle.
“Hey, Maki-chan. What is freedom anyway?”
“I think I was free in Japan.”
“Work five days a week and be lazy for the other two days. But even in those two days, I would spend a lot of it stocking up on groceries and cleaning my room. I didn’t have that much time to myself.”
“Still, I could buy the books I wanted and watch funny videos.”
“I could eat what I want and make my own decisions in life.”
“Like going on dates.”
“Or being dumped.”
“Right, oh, that’s right.”
“I…don’t care about it anymore, though.”
Okay, it still hurt. Just a little.
“An overly anxious elf.”
“A worrywart king.”
“An easygoing beastkin.”
They looked up into the sky and waved. Surely, they were watching over them.
“A kind dwarf.”
“And a prince.”
They laughed. Still, they hurried towards the castle.
“It’s the people of this world that I keep thinking about.”
“What we are doing right now. Maybe it is something that we decided on ourselves?”
“…It is something we decided.”
“Oh, we’re free then.”
They weren’t running away. They were moving forward. Somehow. Just thinking of it like that allowed them to breathe much more easily.
“Then let’s choose our own path and move forward.”
Now, to the castle!
“That’s unusual. Children of the human tribes.”
“We’re trying to reach some relatives. And we heard that we could go to Gromble while working.”
“Indeed. I think the position is still open too. Just go in straight through here and you will see a large barracks. Go ask the people there.”
“Okay, thank you!”
The dwarf castle was really flat. The building had two stories, with the left side echoing with the sounds from the smithy. The right side seemed to be for living quarters. The castle was filled with not only dwarves, but humans who were preparing for tomorrow’s journey, and so it was very lively.
And the barracks was close by.
“Um, we’re here for the catering position!”
“Ah. Well, go tell that old man over there!”
It was evening now, and preparations for dinner had started. And so they headed towards the middle-aged, slightly balding man that had been pointed at.
“Um, we’re here for the catering!”
“What? Who are you two?”
“We heard that you were hiring people to help during the trip to Gromble.”
The man stared at them.
“Show me your hands.”
They showed him their palms. They were smooth.
“Hmph. Interesting. So, you wish to go to Gromble?”
He put a hand to his chin and considered it.
“Alright, I’m going to test whether or not you will be useful. Peel those potatoes.”
There was a basket full of potatoes there.
“You can wash them over there. Here are the knives. Put the peeled potatoes in here. Let me know when you are finished.”
It was very sudden, but they had to do it. First, Maki washed the potatoes, and Chiharu peeled them. When Maki was finished, she helped peel them as well. They were careful but also quick. When they were done, Chiharu gathered up the peels while Chiharu washed the potatoes again.
“That was slow.”
Their shoulders slumped.
“But you are good with your hands. Better than nothing I suppose. 5,000 gil a day. You will be free when you’re not preparing food and cleaning up. However, most of the time will be spent traveling. You will have three meals a day and sleep in a tent. At least until Gromble. How’s that?”
“Thank you so much!”
“Thank you so much!”
“My name’s Paulo. What’s yours?”
“I’m Kenneth. This is Ryan. My younger brother.”
“Brothers, huh? You look alike. But you’re so skinny. You better eat as much as you can while you’re with us.”
“Do you want to start tonight?”
“No, there is someone who is helping us, so we would like to come tomorrow.”
“We leave in the morning. So you better be here very early.”