Night in the Ogre Village
“So, you do eat rice…”
The sweetness of it was so nostalgic that I could cry. I had always laughed at the idea of anyone going through the trouble of making rice when they came to another world. But I suppose at the end of the day, it was in my blood.
Yunagi’s father was called ‘Yamato’ and he was the chief of the ogres. And the food they set out before Daniela and I was decidedly ‘Japanese.’ Apparently, ogres mainly ate rice. And in this underground village, they were able to grow rice even though there was no sunlight.
“It’s all because of those elves.”
Yamato said with a laugh, before stuffing his face with rice. Daniela looked at it oddly before taking a bite. She had never used chopsticks before, but she was able to master them quickly after seeing me use them.
I took my time, relishing every bite. The soup and salted fish that came with it was also incredibly delicious. I had thought that I would never eat such food again.
The pleasant meal ended all too soon. The table was cleared, and we were served some tea. Then the old vajra was placed on the table.
“I’d like to ask you about it. If you don’t mind.”
How did we get it? Why were we there? I would have to tell them that I was from another world in order to explain all of it.
I took a sip of the hot tea and began my story.
□ □ □ □
“I see…what a tale.”
“Yes. But I was able to make it this far because of Daniela’s help.”
After finishing the story, I drank the rest of the now lukewarm tea.
I had also told him about the Nova. What they had been doing in secret. Reincarnation. My assumption had been that they already knew about this, but they didn’t.
“Our reason for hating the Nova is because it is a magic independent intelligence device that brought about the ruin of the elves. Your story explains so much.”
“Why they died.”
Daniela stirred. We waited for him to continue.
“Well, at least, I think so… The Nova must have succeeded in connecting to the world of the gods.”
“Succeeded… Ah, that’s what you mean. It’s because they connected, that they earned their wrath.”
According to Yamato, the world used to be filled with much more mana. And it was with this abundant mana that they were able to make the connection. And so things had to be changed.
“But the Nova are trying to do it again…”
“The world might just be destroyed next time…”
There was a heavy silence.
The Nova’s experiments had hurt people in the past and present. And they would do so in the future. I wanted to stop that. No more summoning. It could not be allowed.
Those were my only reasons for fighting. And yet it turned out that there was more at stake. The entire world was in danger.
“I don’t know what the results will be, but I felt that there was no other option. We have to fight. I’ve seen others who were summoned and how they reacted when learning the truth. I don’t want to see more people like that.”
“Aye… Bah, now some old faces are coming back to me. So many people. They all looked like they’d given up. And that’s how they died. Perhaps they were also from another world…”
He laughed gently as he thought back on old days. Then Yunagi turned to look at me.
“…What about you, Asagi? Isn’t it hard not being able to go back?”
“Well, I won’t say that it’s easy. But I have someone here I need to look out for.”
I answered with a jab to Daniela. Yunagi laughed. Daniela scowled with annoyance.
“I have lived longer than you and can continue to do so without your help.”
There was a pleasant mood in the room as we drank our tea. If only things could stay this way…
But that wasn’t why we were here.
“So, what kind of fighting power does the Nova have?”
Yamato’s expression suddenly turned serious, and his voice lowered. Everyone’s back seemed to straighten as well.
“Someone sacrificed themselves in order to gain information. According to her, we should expect to find about a thousand Automata waiting for us there.”
“That is all we heard.”
Yamato crossed his arms and stared at the vajra on the table. Then he muttered.
“Ah, I reckon there are really ten thousand.”
The number was so high that I gasped.
“What makes you say that?”
“You said that this person sacrificed themselves. So that means the Nova knew that she was searching. The numbers cannot be trusted. It’s safer to assume they have ten times that number.”
“Ten thousand Automata…”
I shuddered at the thought of so many Automata lined up on that green hill in the mist.
Me. Daniela, Manager, Rachel, Matsumoto, and the ogres. Could we really go against such numbers?
Even if we could get through them, they were likely to have some other trump card as well. Would we have the energy to get through that? I thought that we might be able to manage it if it was a thousand. But this…
“Well, there ain’t no point in gettin’ ahead of yourselves. Take it easy, at least today. Then you can leave tomorrow. You have to hurry, am I right?”
“Sort of. But, shouldn’t we talk about this more? Make plans?”
“Plans? Like I said, it’s just speculation. And what would be the point in that, when you haven’t assembled your own team yet?”
I suppose. We hadn’t united with Manager. And I needed to talk to Rachel and Matsumoto. But I wanted to talk about this, still. Perhaps it was because of the incredible scale. I was shrinking back now. And I knew it.
“You need to relax. Get some rest. You oughtn’t be so stressed when thinking about it.”
“Right… Well, we’ll do that then.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear. Now, go and take them to their rooms, Yunagi.”
Yamato slapped his knees and got to his feet. Then he disappeared in a back room. Yunagi watched him from the corner of her eye and then sighed.
“Gee, that old man… I’m very sorry. Surely you found him annoying?”
“No, not at all. We had a great time, and he seems like a nice dad.”
“Now I know you’re lying!”
Yunagi said with a laugh. Then she too slapped her knee and got to her feet.
“Well, I better take you to your room then. Follow me.”
“Alright. Let’s go, Daniela.”
“Wait a second.”
Daniela drained that last of her tea and then got up. And so we followed after Yunagi.
As this was the chief’s house, it was very spacious. There were many doors and hallways we passed through until we arrived at our room. However, we didn’t encounter any stairs. Perhaps they tried to keep the buildings short here, as we were underground. The only exception to this was the tower.
“Here you are. Daniela, you’re over here.”
“What? I am not with Asagi?”
“As if men and women could share a room!”
Apparently, ogres had a strong sense of virtue. Hmm. Daniela nodded and then followed Yunagi to the room on the opposite side.
As I was left in front of the door, I knocked on it, just in case, and then opened it. But there was no one inside.
“Woah. This is amazing…”
You could say that it was very, traditionally Japanese. Well, there were a few things that were different. No sliding paper doors here. But the overall make of it was very familiar. It even had tatami mats.
There was a magic illumination tool in the corner of the room. It had a wooden frame underneath the paper, and there was a mysterious pattern drawn on it that projected around the room. It gave me a strong sense of nostalgia.
And there was a futon in the center of the room. The pillow rattled when I shook it. It was filled with rice husk. And the blankets were both heavy and silky smooth.
“This is great… Maybe I’ll just live here.”
Before I knew it, I had dove into my blankets and fallen asleep. It had only taken a matter of seconds.
□ □ □ □
And so it was with a little shock, that I was violently shaken out of my sleep. How long had it been since I slept so deeply?
“Come on! Hurry up and get out! Do you mean to sleep all day!”
“Uh…sorry. It was just so comfortable…”
“Ah, so you can tell! Well, I did expect you to appreciate them, Asagi.”
“What do you mean by that?”
I fought against the urge to go back to sleep, and rolled out of bed. Yunagi was standing above me with her arms crossed and a smile on her face.
“Because this bedding was made by a Hero a long time ago! Someone who came from your world!”
“Ah… Right. That makes sense.”
It was what I had expected. It would have been way too much of a coincidence for the ogres to have been able to recreate all of this. That’s how familiar it was. A Hero coming here and helping them was the only explanation.
But even with that considered, it was very impressive. Though, it also made me wonder if all this effort just showed how homesick this person had been.
“Now, everyone is waiting. So hurry up.”
“Alright, alright. You can go ahead.”
Yunagi muttered and then left the room. When I was sure that she was gone, I wiped away a tear that had formed in my eye.