Half a Year Later – Part 1
“Wow, to think that there was such a place in the beast lands!”
“The grassy fields stretch out as far as you can see, and there are white mountains in the far distance. Though, I’ve never been there.”
“It’s just like the savannas in Africa!”
“It’s just like the savannas in Africa!”
The view that they could see from the windows of Aeris’s airship was something that Maki and Chiharu had never seen before.
“Up until now, the largest place we’d seen was Hokkaido.”
“That’s right. And there were rolls of dried grass rolling around here and there.”
“Yes, yes. But it doesn’t even compare to this place. Ah, look over there.”
“It’s an elephant!”
The ground was closer now that they were preparing to land, and so the scene became much more clear.
“Normally, I would have taken Maki and Chiharu to see the waterfalls that are deep in the elf mountains by now.”
As Aeris grumbled and steered the airship, Edwy looked at him with exasperation.
“You lost in a game of rock, paper, scissors, so you can’t complain.”
“It is embarrassing that we decided on such a game, which is not logical at all.”
Yes, they had rock, paper, scissors in this world as well. However, in spite of his expression not changing at all, Aeris thought too much, and he could not go by instinct. And so he would often lose.
Maki looked at Aeris and wondered why he would decide that way to begin with. Of course, the reason that they did it was because Maki and Chiharu could not decide where they wanted to go. As they looked out of the window, Maki glanced over to Chiharu.
Half a year had now passed since Chiharu was abducted by the inland people. And while she acted like she was fine, she had been wrapped up in a blanket and taken by force. The effects of being locked underground was big, and even though Chiharu rarely got sick, she stayed in bed for quite a while once everything was over.
Saintesses continued to produce magic stones even when they stayed in bed. They hadn’t thought much about it before, as it was all automatic, but it seemed to really be a burden on a weakened body. And so even after she appeared to have recovered, Chiharu was not what she used to be.
In the meantime, Arthur worked hard with Norfe in order to reorganize the internal administration. While Lord Adol, who had abducted Chiharu, was the king’s representative, he had not actually been incompetent at his job. What he had wanted to do was to make a country that was self-reliant. This included the magic stones.
And so he had secretly opened the dungeon that he had found, and used some of the soldiers for special missions involving the hunting of the monsters so they could acquire the magic stones. Their lives would not be in danger as long as they were careful, and since the pay was good, there were some among the soldiers who were devoted to Adol, and did not think it strange that the Saintess was abducted.
Apparently, they had brought in some shady figures from the dwarf lands as workers to dig in the caves. It was also discovered that aside from the castle, there was another inland dungeon where monsters appeared, near the mirror lake. This was very shocking, not just to the dwarf lands, but also Midland, as the dwarves would have been traveling on their trains to reach the inland dungeon.
Each place had to flush out the crime within their own countries and offer their help to the inland country. So everyone was very busy during the past half year.
In such a situation, Maki could not talk about wanting to go on a trip. Besides, she wanted to stay near Chiharu, whose health had not completely returned.
“I’ll stay in the castle and read books. You should go on your own, Maki-chan. I’m sure the birdfolk will be quick to act if you ask them.”
Maki did enjoy traveling on her own. However, she had discovered that it was much more fun to travel as a pair. And so she didn’t feel like going out on a casual trip, just because she had some extra time now.
However, maybe it didn’t have to be a trip?
Thinking this, Maki went to see Kaider and Nyran, who had stayed to take care of the inland dungeon.
“Hello. I came to see you again!”
“So you did, Maki. How is Chiharu?”
“She’s mostly recovered, but she tires easily. So I don’t think she’s ready for a long trip with the birdfolk.”
Nyran answered as he glanced over in the direction of Midland. He was in charge of the mirror lake dungeon, while Kaider took care of the one in the castle. That was how they split the job as they worked. The reason that Kaider had been sent to the castle was so that the inland people would get used to seeing someone from the three other territories.
“How are the dungeons?”
“We went quite far down, but to be honest, there aren’t enough monsters to have to call Adventurers from other countries.”
Nyran pushed the hair out of his face and sighed.
“The one in the castle appears to be very old, and it’s quite big as well. But I think that the best thing to do is to train the inland soldiers, pay them what they had given previously, and manage it like that.”
“And so everything should be settled without a problem. More importantly, you should go to the castle.”
Nyran suggested to Maki, much to her annoyance.
“No, surely they have enough people there. And it’s so far.”
“It won’t take long if you the birdfolk take you. Right, Sauro?”
Sauro and Saikania enjoyed taking Maki around. As he was the future chief of the birdfolk, it was also his duty to have the inland people get used to seeing them.
“Many birdfolk will go, even if you tell them not to. And since no one has actually told them not to, numerous birdfolk have gone already.”
“I-I had a feeling that it was the case.”
There was a freedom that weighed more than any sense of duty.
“Kaider is waiting. So you should go.”
“I-I don’t know if you can say he is really waiting…”
Maki turned away.
“Well, even someone who is over 100 years old like Kaider will still live 100 years longer than a human like me. So people like them are really patient. If you go along with them, you’ll just reach the end of your life.”
“I see. So our lifespans are different…”
Nyran looked at Maki, who seemed like she had realized this for the first time, and he chuckled.
“I’m not saying that you have to do anything. However, if you do feel that you want to meet him, you should meet him as much as you can while you can. It doesn’t have to be as a lover.”
“L-l-lover, that’s not what I…”
They weren’t at that level. And Maki did not like to be indecisive.
“That’s true. Since I’m already here, I might as well go to the castle.”
“That’s the Maki I know.”
So she started to visit often. And she told herself that this was nothing like going on a trip.
“Ah, Maki. So you came again.”
“Though, I’m sure I won’t be of any use.”
“That’s not true. The morale of the people is raised by your presence alone. And I am personally happy as well.”
Would the old Kaider have said such a thing while looking into Maki’s eyes, without a shred of embarrassment? However, his eyes still shifted away slightly. Even the people around them thought it was frustrating and strange. Maki and Kaider had not changed much at all.