They say that if you kept traveling through the mountains behind the castle, you would reach the edge of the Sun World. Norfe gazed at the mountains and mused on how when he was young, he had once entered those mountains in order to see if it was true.
In the end, after wandering through the mountains for half a day, the castle guards took him back. No matter how much he looked, the only thing he saw above the mountains was the blue sky and the flying birds. Were they really close to the edge of the Sun World? Even now, the question remained.
Norfe glanced at the birds. Well, they looked like birds, since they were flying high in the sky. But they were actually birdfolk. If he asked them, maybe they would take him far away, so that he could see what was on the other side of the mountains. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot of birdfolk in the area recently.
“Norfe. What are you thinking about?”
The person who talked to him was a beautiful bird person with white feathers. It was Orne. Normally, there was another white feather called Puel there as well, but for some reason, Puel generally stayed around Chouze. While Chouze could be a little arrogant, she was secretly interested in beastkin, and so she was quite happy. Norfe shrugged at Orne.
“Nothing important. When I was a child, I used to wonder about the edge of the Sun World. Also, don’t call me by my name. I didn’t give you permission. How many times do I have to tell you?”
“In that case, Norfe. I can take you.”
“I do not accept your offer. As if I would want to be carried like a child.”
Just like that girl who sold oranges. No, she was actually a Saintess. The eyes that he saw when holding her were not black, but brown like a shiny chestnut. She had been so cute, that he had not noticed that she was a Saintess. However, when her wig was blown away, the hair he saw for a second really was black. And her eyes were black as they reflected the lanterns in the darkness of night. No matter how many times he thought back to it, it was definitely the Saintess he had met at the Midland castle.
Saintesses were enveloped in miasma and gathered what was unwanted in the Sun World. What was unclean. That’s why Midland, who was the closest to three territories, always looked after them. That was what he had been raised to believe.
It was here, far inland, Highland. They were the representatives of the pure world of humans.
But in reality, their lives were becoming richer through the magic stones that could only be acquired through the elf, dwarf, and beastkin lands, which were close to the Shadow World. However, as they were so far, the cost for shipping was much higher. This meant that they had to pay higher prices than Midland and Lowland.
As the future king, Norfe’s job was to do something about this lack of fairness. That was what he was taught.
Norfe’s father, who was always quite weak, was the current king. But recently, he had started to show himself less. And it was mainly the king’s younger brother, Marquis Adol, who ruled the inland country. Both his uncle and the senior vassals told Norfe to be ready to inherit the throne at any time.
However, in spite of these warnings, Norfe rarely took part in governing. And just like with the merfolk incident, he was usually sent around the country instead.
Not only that, but the people of the castle were supposed to have hated the beastkin, but now they welcomed the birdfolk with open arms. In the first place, the people here lived so far away that many had never actually seen a beastkin or dwarf. So perhaps any perceptions of like and dislike didn’t matter. And they just saw them as something rare.
It was because of this situation that his failure to bring back the merman was not made into a big problem. It made him feel like he had wasted all of his effort. However, it seemed that it was a good thing in the end. And for some reason, he had not said anything about how the girl who was brought to the castle was actually a Saintess. It would be more accurate to say that he hadn’t wanted to say it. Thankfully, no one else had actually noticed.
Besides, what would happen even if he did make a report? She had come in disguise, so he should just keep it quiet.
Norfe sighed as he watched the birdfolk play with the town’s children. He remembered the words he had spoken with the Saintess.
“Selling apples at a high price, huh?”
“It’s true that apples are sold almost anywhere, but Highland’s are big and sweet. And they last longer.”
“Is that so?”
“You sure don’t know much for someone who studies a lot, Norfe.”
“I told you to stop calling me that!”
“I normally stay in the dwarf lands, and their apple wine is especially good. However, when it comes to eating plain apples, they do not compare to what Highland can offer.”
“I knew it! The apple farmers of Highland work hard when it comes to selective breeding.”
Orne’s eyes narrowed a little.
“That’s such a human thing to do, isn’t it? Change everything.”
“A human thing…”
Norfe glanced over to Orne. Come think of it, all he ever thought about was how he saw the Saintesses, or the birdfolk and dwarves. He never thought about how they saw the inland people.
“So, I suppose we should try flying over the mountain.”
“Why is that!”
“Don’t worry. I was able to carry Kaider quite easily, and he is not a light one. A scrawny royal like you will be nothing.”
Orne seemed to laugh a little at how stubborn Norfe was being, but then gazed at the garden too and said,
“While you are humans, people seem to be the same everywhere. However, there is something unpleasant about this castle.”
Norfe was so shocked that anyone would insult the castle right in front of a member of the royal family.
“Why do they lie about welcoming us birdfolk? They grimace and scowl behind the scenes. So why do they praise us and mourn for the Saintess?”
Orne generally stayed at dwarf castles. As Kaider was currently working freely as an Adventurer, he helped the Saintesses and cooperated with Sauro, but he also traveled freely when he wanted. And since traveling as a tourist was very popular among birdfolk recently, had come all of the way here.
The birdfolk had never gone anywhere before, and so they were easily affected by how the people pampered and praised them. This was very annoying. Anyone who had any experience with humans knew that the things that came out of their mouths were not necessarily the truth.
Had Orne been younger, he would have flown out of this disgusting place immediately, but he was an adult. For Sauro’s sake, he would stay and watch just a little longer. Besides, mocking the prince was rather fun. And Puel seemed to like Chouze.
However, this unusual birdfolk festival in Highland would not last very long.