The meat looked amazing when it came out. The mothers dragged the hot slabs out of the fire by holding the bones, and then they were thrown on top of wooden planks. Wild…
“This sauce was made from the forest fruits. Try eating it with the meat.”
“It looks great. Thank you.”
The sauce was thick and had a golden color. I didn’t know if the fire had been the perfect strength or it was just the quality of the meat, but it fell off of the bones and was rich with fat. The combination with the sauce was strangely amazing. Sweeter sauces were not bad at all.
“And we have wine as well. Wine made by orcs.”
“That’s amazing… You made it?”
“Aye. We met dwarves on our travels and were able to learn. It should be easy to drink, as it is fruit wine.”
That was impressive. He was even able to befriend dwarves… It must have been hard. But at least it was a fruitful journey. These orcs were starting to create their own culture.
It was very surprising.
I took a sip of the wine that Arthur poured for me. It was sweet and delicious and a little milky.
“Can you tell? We raise our own livestock here. And we use their milk.”
“You helped us find a way to live. And I find that it suits me very well.”
From what he told me, they had been living as a nomadic tribe with their livestock until they arrived here. Of course, they hadn’t been able to bring them into the depths of the sea of trees, and so they were returned to the wild…
“I was very sad when we had to do that… They kept looking back at us as they left. It was painful to see.”
But they would have a better chance of survival at least.
“Well, there was a village in the direction that we unleashed them in, so I was sure that they would find someone to look after them. They are used to people.”
“I see… You’ve come a long way.”
“Aye. It was a very, very long journey.”
There was a short silence. But it was a pleasant one. We were both thinking back on what we had experienced. The orc king that I had met in the caves was now living here happily. It was great… I had no other words.
“Ah, that’s right. I forgot something.”
“I needed to return this to you.”
I took the white sword out of the hollow bag. The holy sword. Even its handle and sheath were white. It was the Exalibur. The sword that Mordred stole from him.
“Ahh… I did not expect to see this sword again.”
“So you didn’t trust me?”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. However, things rarely work out as intended.”
“Yes… It wasn’t like it was easy.”
I offered it to him, and his large, pale hands went around the hilt. He slowly unsheathed it and then looked at the platinum blade with an affectionate expression. Suddenly, I was reminded of something.
What did he just say?
“Hmm? What? Asagi.”
“Uh, sorry if I’m wrong, but… Do you know about worlds other than this one?”
It didn’t really matter if he didn’t. Though, I might have to tell my own story if he asked.
However, Arthur’s expression changed immediately.
“…As for that, I would prefer if we talked about it when alone. Do you mind?”
“Of course, not.”
“…Thank you. Alright, let’s eat!’
He said cheerfully, dispelling the sober atmosphere. He thrust his hands into the fire and pulled out some meat. It was so bold that I chuckled.
□ □ □ □
I drank moderately and ate excessively. And so it was while rubbing my bloated stomach that I came to the lakeside, that Arthur had suggested.
It was dark all around. However, the sky was full of stars that shone down brightly. They reflected on the surface of the lake and sparkled in their own distinct way.
“…I wonder if this water is drinkable?”
“We can. But I think it might be harsh for human bodies.”
I had muttered it to myself, but Arthur answered as he walked towards me.
“So, I guess you’d have to boil it.”
“Aye. It’s good that orc bodies are tough. It’s one of the things I am thankful for.”
Well, he wasn’t going to hide it anymore.
“When did you know?”
“It was during a journey. I was attacked by a wyvern. Can you see this scar?”
He tapped on his head. I couldn’t see anything. Arthur was much taller than me. I tried standing on my toes, and he laughed and bent down.
There was a scar where a wyvern had dug its claws. It started at the top of his head and went down the back. And while it was completely healed, I winced at the sight of it.
“It was very deep. My comrades managed to drive it away, but I was unconscious for several days. And it was then that I dreamed. I dreamed of a world much different from this one.”
“When I woke up, I had memories of my past life. I was very old.”
Apparently, he was an old man who lived in the countryside of Japan. His wife had passed away long before him, and he had lived a long and lonely life.
“I did have one dog. Dogs are good company, you know. His name…”
“Don’t tell me…”
I didn’t even have to ask.
“Haha. Yes, it is what you are thinking. Pochi.”
What a coincidence. Arthur’s old pet had come back as a Cerberus. Though, it had been Rachel who named it.
“He called himself Pochi. I was shocked when I realized that someone had given him that name in this world. A human like me…or a monster, existed.”
“Yes, the person who gave him that name originally came from Japan. I know her.”
Arthur’s voice was full of emotion. He must have felt very lonely when surrounded by orcs all of this time. Even if you weren’t trying, knowing that you used to be human would have started to make a barrier around you. I would have been scared in his position. It would be hard to stay yourself.
“I had thought about it a lot. Why was I here as a monster and leading these orcs? And after I was attacked by the wyvern, I understood. I always enjoyed teaching people. Because I used to be a teacher.”
He slowly sat down by the water and picked up a pebble, which he rolled in his hand.
“Perhaps that explains why I always had an aversion to attacking humans. I’m not a very good monster. And yet they follow me and even try to learn how to speak. I love them for that. You know, they haven’t attacked anyone since you helped them. Regardless of their instincts, they follow me. I am so grateful.”
“It’s because they’ve seen how earnestly you lived. You are proof of their being another way. You accomplished it, and so they trust you. …Well, I’m sure this means little coming from someone like me.”
I sat down next to him and threw a pebble into the water. It splashed quietly, the ripples scattering the stars on the lake.
“I wouldn’t say that. I learned from you, after all. What you said to me helped revive some of my memories. And I’m grateful for that. Thank you.”
“…Right. I’m glad to hear it.”
The ripples faded and everything was still once more.
“We should go to sleep soon. This place is peaceful, so you don’t have to worry at night.”
“…Now that I think about it… How did you get in here? We had to enter a cave that was pretty high up…”
“Hmm? We just entered a cave near the base, and that led us here… I see. So there are caves above as well.”
“Are you serious…”
That meant there was a cave near the area where Daniela had been making snowmen…
It was always darkest under the lighthouse…
I suddenly felt very exhausted… But it was about time that drowsiness visited me. A yawned and then started walking back to Camelot.