Half a Year Later 4
The airship slowly descended in the field of tall grass. To Maki and Chiharu, the fields of grass all looked the same, but the place that Aeris landed was like a clearing where there was no grass.
First, Zynis and Edwy went outside. And then they called Maki and Chiharu. The two stepped outside hesitantly, but the air was surprisingly dry, and the smell of dried grass entered their nostrils.
There was no sight of any elephants or living creatures. Instead, there were people who came out to greet them.
Chiharu couldn’t help but raise her voice a little. Maki’s eyes were shining. It was no wonder. Because not only were they cat people, but they were so tall that Maki and Chiharu had to look up at them.
Zynis was likely around two meters tall, and the cat people they had met in the forest were on the small side. But these were just as big as Zynis. Not only that, but they had spots in their yellowish-brown fur. Perhaps they were closer to leopards and lions, rather than house cats.
As Maki and Chiharu took in this sight, Kaider and Nyran stood protectively behind them. And then a moment later, Aeris came as if a little flustered.
“Oh, dear. While airships are convenient, it can be annoying when you want to play but have to pilot it.”
Said the large person who seemed to be the same age as them.
“Dios! I hope you’ve been well!”
“I was surprised when I suddenly heard from you! After all, while this place is thick with miasma, there are no monsters. And so it feels unrelated to the Saintesses.”
Dios replied to Zynis in a loud voice. He must be the representative here.
“Well, we’re not here on business, but for leisure. And so they’ll be taking it easy.”
Dios answered, and then he turned to Maki and Chiharu.
“We’ve heard about the hardships you have faced. I am Dios, the representative of this area. While we can only offer you simple accommodations, I hope that you will be able to relax here.”
“Thank you. I am Maki.”
Dios’s eyes narrowed and his back seemed to curl up as he looked at them closely. His long tail waved back and forth behind him.
“From what I can see, this one is the Fighting Saintess and this one is the Healing Saintess.”
Maki and Chiharu were so stunned that their jaws dropped.
“Hey, Dios! The Saintesses don’t know about that!”
Zynis said frantically. But it was too late.
“And Healing Saintess?”
Where did those names come from? As far as Maki and Chiharu were concerned, Maki was just slightly more active, while Chiharu was a little quieter. But they were just two adults who weren’t all that different. Had this just been the result of Maki being more impulsive?
“You know, the night that Chiharu was abducted. Maki was teaching the others some kind of martial arts known as karate. And it started to spread through the beast lands…”
“Alright, I understand that. But why is Chiharu the Healing Saintess?”
“Because she healed the monsters and returned them to magic stones, even when abducted…”
So it was still related to being abducted.
“Well, I suppose I should be thankful that they didn’t call me the ‘Abducted Saintess.’”
At this point, Chiharu’s tendency to get abducted was legendary. As if to prove this, they heard the ominous sounds of wings.
But as the wings flapped and the dried leaves blew up in the wind, the people that landed were…
“Don’t get us mixed up with those flexible people.”
“They may have white wings, but they’re city birds.”
A number of large birds had gathered. Their wings were a mixture of brown and white feathers.
“Flexible? You’re just a country bumpkin who doesn’t know anything about the outside world.”
“Just white? Do you know how far these wings can fly?”
Said Sauro and Saikania as they flew down.
“They are a minority tribe that live in this area. They are fiercely independent and full of curiosity, but don’t really meet much with other birdfolk.”
“So are these birdfolk…”
“The ones that gather around the basket and try to abduct people.”
It made sense now.
“Haa… This is why we should have gone to the elf mountains. It would have been nice and quiet.”
Chiharu moved closer and patted him on the arm.
“Thank you for driving the airship all of this time. I hope you’ll take us to the waterfall in the elf lands one day.”
“O-of course, I will.”
He had always embraced Chiharu without restraint in the past, but now, his hands seemed to wander behind Chiharu as if not know what to do. And his face looked a little red.
“Are you a child?”
Maki muttered, but it was erased by the loudness of the birdfolk.
“Oh, there’s no need to worry about the birdfolk as long as you are inside of the basket. Tomorrow, we’ll ride the elephants in the morning.”
“You won’t want to ride the elephants if you feel sick, so there will be no drinking tonight.”
Like that, Zynis’s words dropped Maki from heaven into hell. However, the beast lands weren’t famous for their alcoholic beverages to begin with, so perhaps it couldn’t be helped.
And then the birdfolk who seemed like they didn’t get along with Sauro and Saikania were introduced. And once things calmed down, they headed to a village that was on a small hill a short distance away. It was a beautiful village that had rows of cottage-like structures. There were also a few trees growing in the fields of grass, which would provide shade during the day.
“So they aren’t made of bricks!”
“I wonder where the wood came from.”
Maki and Chiharu’s eyes shone as they looked around. Then the catfolk, who were their hosts, gathered around them.
“It’s from that far away mountain, but it’s not difficult to bring things even if they are heavy.”
“That’s true. Because of the magic stones.”
“Now, let’s take you to the guest house. You should rest a little first.”
So saying, they entered the guest house that they were led to. While it was only one room, it was very big. You could host a small gathering inside.
“Are we going to sleep in these?”
Dios nodded with satisfaction.
“Because humans don’t like sleeping on the floor. While it can be difficult at first, it’s great once you are used to it.”
And so Maki and Chiharu approached the hammocks.
“Open it up and sit inside first. Yes, you’re good at this.”
While Maki would have had no trouble getting in, for some reason Chiharu was the first to try it.
“And then raise your legs, yes, you can sleep sideways. Now try moving into your preferred position.”
“How is it, Chiharu?”
“It’s so comfortable. Ahhh.”
And then Maki, Edwy and so on tried, from lightest to heaviest.
“So it has no problem handling my weight.”
Kaider sat on top of it carefully, but it seemed fine. Nyran and Aeris seemed like they were used to hammocks, and sat on them comfortably.
“There is only one guest house, so you can all rest here.”
Maki and Chiharu replied happily. Just then, there was the sound of something heavy falling from a hammock.
“Hey, wait a minute. While they are young, sharing a room with women is, um…”
Kaider’s face had gone red.
“I don’t mind, as long as we are separated when bathing or changing.”
Maki, Chiharu, Edwy, Aaron and Aeris had all spent a night together in the airship before. So there was no point in being self-conscious now. However, when Maki looked over to Aeris, he seemed strangely stiff as he lay in his hammock. Has something happened to him? Maki wondered with suspicion.
“Well, I’m sure you will work it out. Dinner will be served outside shortly.”
Dios said with a laugh. And then he went outside. An awkward silence fell over the room.
“It can’t be helped. Anyone who is worried can go out. I will sleep here with Maki and Chiharu.”
Kaider’s face was red, but Edwy just shrugged.
“You can go on about women or whatever, but we are traveling companions. If you sleep outside, Kaider, then it’s Maki and Chiharu that will worry.”
Sometimes, Edwy did feel like the most mature person in the group, thought Chiharu. While he had been embarrassed back at the uninhabited island, he had grown. In spite of everything, they all decided to stay together. And after that, they enjoyed some roasted meat around the fire with the villagers.