Footprints of a Friend and a Farewell Feast
Cath Palug came into view shortly past midday. I landed with Legs of the God Wolf on the field where the feast had taken place. It did not take long for the children to spot us and gather around.
“They sure are energetic.”
“Haha… Maybe too much. …Hey, stop. Stop. Ggg!”
One of the overly energetic children didn’t bother to stop and ended up ramming me in the stomach. Having underestimated the force, I was thrown into the pile of snow behind me.
The children laughed. I listened to their muffled voices while my head was covered in snow, and I pondered on the immense power of the beastkin. Then Daniela kicked me in the leg.
“How long are you going to stay in there?”
She sounded annoyed. And I was starting to feel cold, and so I pushed away the snow and got back to my feet. The children looked at me excitedly.
I didn’t know what they were so excited about. But it was nice to see… Hmmm. And to think they had been taught to fear humans. But they liked me now. …Maybe?
“Mishka’s mother is all better!”
“They don’t have to live away from us anymore.”
“We can play again!”
They told me the news that had spread throughout the settlement. It was a most feared disease among the beastkin, and so they had had to live in a house that was secluded from the others. But that was over now. And in such a small settlement, it was very good news.
“Ahh, since Miss Namil is all better, you should go and visit them.”
They shouted, and then ran in the direction of the house. They were energetic beginning to end… Yes, it was good.
After being welcomed by the children, we started to walk to the chief’s house. The two young beastkin were there, and they waved at us when we approached. They were a lot more friendly after the feast. I had even seen them dancing happily as Daniela played. Or at least, I think I did.
“Hello. Is the chief home?”
“Aye, he’s inside. Please wait one moment.”
And then one of them went inside. Even though it was a small settlement, he was still the chief. They still had go-betweens, I suppose. He returned within half a minute and gestured for us to go in. That was fast.
We said as we entered. You had to take your shoes off here. Daniela always found this part awkward.
“Ah, so you returned safely.”
“Yes, as you can see. I’m just great.”
I had slept for half a day due to my recklessness, but I still came out unharmed.
“So you were able to kill the Blue Dragon?”
“Cut its head right off. Things should be a lot more peaceful in these parts now.”
Upon hearing this, the chief let out a deep sigh of relief.
“Yes, that will make things easier for us. The lake is much closer than the river, after all…”
It was true. This settlement was quite far from the river. The children helped carry the water, so it would be good news for them as well.
“Well, these houses can be relocated. And we even considered moving closer to the river. Though, it was quite comfortable here, as the ground is flat.”
“I see. So that’s why.”
I guess it was a convenient spot, aside from the need to carry water. And it would be even easier once the icesnow phase was done.
“By the way… These houses have really interesting structures. The children showed me around, and told me that they can be taken apart and moved. It’s a pretty unusual idea.”
“Yes. We used to live in normal houses. And this resulted in a lot of trouble when the monsters of the forest would attack us. But then someone helped us.”
I knew it…
“The thing is, I once told someone about how nomadic tribes lived… How they raised livestock and lived in houses that could be taken apart so they could travel the lands.”
“The person that we taught this to was a white orc. Chief, could it be the same person? Was his name Arthur?”
Daniela must have been giving it some thought as well, as she immediately caught on to what I was saying. As I had not been sure, I hadn’t talked to her about it.
The chief seemed very surprised by these questions, but then started to chuckle.
“Hehe…hehehe. So, in a way, we were helped by you.”
“So it is him…”
“Yes. It was Arthur who taught us. He led a group of orcs. They helped us build this settlement.”
It was just as I had suspected. Ah, Arthur. So he survived and came to this sea of trees…!
I was so happy that I was shaking. It seemed like I would be able to keep my promise after all.
“Do you know where he is now? There’s something that I have to give to him.”
“He said that he was going to the west. After all, there is supposed to be a mountain where the west ends. A place where no one goes near to… He said that they would make it their new home.”
“Where the west ends…”
It probably meant the edge of the continent. Our next destination went farther than that. We would cross the sea where there was some island.
“We’re planning on heading west. Thank you. We might be able to meet him now.”
“When you do, send him my regards. Tell him that we are doing well.”
“Yes, of course.”
Then I explained that we would be leaving tomorrow. And while it was just a brief acquaintance, he smiled sadly.
And then he excitedly told us that they would feast tonight as well. I was a little concerned about their food supply, but he told me not to worry. After all, they had plenty of stock they had gathered from before the start of the icesnow phase.
Apparently, the sea of trees was a treasure trove for finding food, if you knew where to look. We had purposely come during this season, but it would be nice to visit again when it was warmer. Being able to pick ripened fruits and eat them immediately was a special kind of happiness.
We wanted to help them set everything up this time, but they refused. So we ended up watching the kids again. The adults simply enjoyed receiving us as special guests.
And the children just wanted to play. Of course, I wondered why I was the only one getting tackled repeatedly at full force… But I suppose it was a child’s job to play. And an adult’s job to humor them.
As they played, I saw Mishka’s face among them.
“Ah, Mishka. You look well.”
“I am! Mother is all better, and I can finally play with everyone else now!”
Yes, that was a good thing.
And then she joined the others in tackling me. Maybe it was a popular game among beastkin children. Though, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could last. I had little chance when it was just me against a horde.
“Tsk… To think I’d have to use this power…oww!”
“Stupid bastard. You are playing with children.”
I had been about to activate Legs of the God Wolf, when Daniela bashed me in the head. Yes, it was rather immature. But one did not like to lose. And there were some battles you couldn’t avoid.
“Maybe some other time.”
If that’s what she said, then I would show my true power some other day. Then they would know what Asagi was actually capable of. I might even change the terrain, so I hope they will be ready.
□ □ □ □
The sun slowly descended. The sea of trees was swallowed up by the sunset, and long shadows began to fall. It was my favorite time of the day. The sky and clouds were madder red. The shapes cast by the clouds now that the sun had set, were varied and beautiful.
I looked at the sky on the opposite side and saw that it was already night. And as I stared at the vast sky where the dark blues and reds started to meet, I found the first star of the evening, small, but twinkling brightly.
Bonfires were blazing around us as we walked to the clearing where the feast was to be held.
“I hope you’ll play a song again.”
“If they want me to. I will play all night.”
Daniela said with a smug expression.
“Ah, here are our guests of honor!”
“Hey, hurry up! I’m hungry!”
I smiled as the voices called to us. As I felt we were walking too slow, I grabbed Daniela’s hand and I began to run.
“What has gotten into you?”
“I don’t know!”
The snow crunched under our feet. Daniela lagged behind a little at first. Then she muttered to herself and then picked up her pace.
“Did you say something?”
“No, not at all?”
Oh, she definitely did. It was like she was looking indulging at a child.
Well, maybe it was one day where it was okay to be child-like. It’s more fun.
I could also hear Ash and his family calling.
We were almost there.
And so my feet stomped heavily into the snow as we moved towards this final farewell feast.
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