Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The Hidden Village」Part 2
While shouldering the Umbra Tiger, Ariane and I agreed with Chiome’s suggestion and moved towards the village.
When we eventually reached the main entrance, a guard stationed in a nearby watchtower noticed us and started using a mallet to bang on a hanging wooden chime.
The sound rang through the entire village and the restless atmosphere it stirred in the village could be felt here.
A few minutes later, the drawbridge began to lower before it hit the ground with a heavy thump.
The drawbridge must have weighed a considerable amount, given the two logs bolted to it and its size.
While I was focusing on the gate, Chiome took a step forward.
“Nightfall is almost upon us, quickly enter the village. We don’t know when another monster will appear.”
Ariane and I simultaneously answered and briskly walked into the village.
The bridge began to rise after we crossed it and the gate of the stone wall began to open.
As the gate closed behind us, we followed Chiome towards the center of the village with all eyes focused on us.
There were many children mixed within the crowd of people who had surrounded us as we passed by.
The crowd was most likely made up of multiple tribes, given the amount of different types of fluttering ears I saw, and when they realized I was carrying an Umbra Tiger they all started to cheer.
Chiome walked straight ahead without looking at the people and eventually stopped at the building in the center of the village.
“This is where Hanzo the 22nd, leader of the Blade Heart Clan, lives.”
The building Chiome point out resembled the residence near the hot spring.
Though this one was smaller, it had a cozier atmosphere and from the filigree that covered the building I could tell that a skilled carpenter had built this two-story building.
The neighboring wooden buildings were also built firmly, so the living standard of the People of the Mountain and Plains wasn’t that low.
After we entered the residence, Chiome led us to a wide room where a sole, elderly, cat-eared man stood.
He was around a hundred and eighty centimeters tall, had straight white hair that reached his lower back, and had a long beard and eyebrows reminiscent of a hermit.
With his hands behind his back, the man ran his eyes over each of us before he called out to Chiome, who stood in front of me.
“You’ve faced many hardships, haven’t you Chiome? Is the one behind you from the same country as the First?”
“Yes. The armored figure is Arc-dono, and the elf beside him is Ariane-dono.”
When Ariane and I bowed our heads at our introduction, Ponta raised a cry from Ariane’s arms as a self-introduction.
This made the old man smile before he corrected his posture.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Hanzo the 22nd, leader of the Blade Heart Clan. Arc-dono, Ariane-dono, on behalf of my brethren I would like to offer our gratitude for your help during the previous raid and I welcome you to our humble village. Can I assume the reason you’re here is that you’ve chosen to offer your assistance to us once again?”
Hanzo followed up his introduction with a question directed at me, so I placed the monster I’d been carrying on the ground and returned a proper greeting.
“A pleasure to meet you as well. I am Arc, a humble traveler. I’ve been in Chiome-dono’s care recently. When I learned of your plight, I decided to fulfill her request. Though I am lacking in skill, I offer my strength to your cause.”
Since Hanzo gave me such a formal introduction I replied in a formal manner as well, but it felt like I was enacting an old historical drama.
“I am Ariane Glenys Maple. A warrior of Maple. Chiome-chan is a friend and I’m here as Arc’s chaperone so that he doesn’t cause you any trouble.”
Ariane’s own self-introduction caused Hanzo to start laughing and Chiome to lower her head in an attempt to hide her embarrassment.
Ariane’s half-closed eyes lingered on me at the word ‘chaperone’.
While I tried to figure out what that look meant, Hanzo looked at the dead Umbra Tiger and addressed me.
“Arc-dono, about that monster beside you……”
I pulled myself together and looked at the monster beside me.
“We were attacked by this beast on our way here and Chiome-dono said that this village had various uses for it. So I thought I’d offer it to the village as a gift.”
The wrinkles on Hanzo’s face deepened when he heard my answer.
“Oh, we appreciate it. Thank you for your kindness.”
Hanzo raised his right hand as he said that, and several ninjas in similar garb as Chiome soundlessly appeared on both sides of the room, quickly carrying the Umbra Tiger away.
Appearing from the shadows, as you’d expect of trained ninjas.
Their sudden appearance even caught Ariane by surprise, since I saw her body twitch from the corner of my eye.
Hanzo looked quite gratified at our reactions and urged us deeper into the residence.
“You must be tired from your journey. I’ll make preparations for the two of you to stay the night. We can discuss the details of the request during tonight’s supper.”
When I nodded at Hanzo’s offer, two cat-eared women appeared from the depths of the building.
“These two will guide you to your room, I’ll call for you when supper is ready.”
Hanzo turned his back to us in an attempt to leave when Chiome chased after him.
“Hanzo-sama, what about Sasuke’s whereabouts?”
Even though Chiome spoke under her breath, I was still able to hear her.
It was the first time I’ve heard the name, but I had the feeling it was an honored name like Chiome’s.
With an earnest expression on his face, Hanzo simply shook his head in response to her question.
As I watched the exchange between these two, one of the two women that had appeared previously called out to me, so I fixed my gaze on her.
“Arc-dono, please allow me to lead you to your room.”
“Yes, if you would.”
As we followed the two women, they led us to the second floor, to the two back rooms for Ariane and me.
The rooms were simple in design, with one shuttered window next to an elevated platform covered in a fur rug.
A bed, perhaps.
There was one impressively made wooden desk on the side and an oblong box to place one’s luggage in.
There was an old lamp hanging in the doorway that dimly lit the room, causing shadows to play across the room’s interior.
“This room seems haunted……”
When I muttered my thoughts, someone replied to me.
“I’d say you’re more like a ghost yourself, Arc……”
When I heard someone reply to my unwitting comment, I turned around only to have a green furball leaping into my face, blinding me for a moment.
“Ponta, I can’t see anything.”
When I pulled her off my face by the scruff of her neck, Ponta happily wagged her tail as she stared at me.
She must have been excited when she heard about dinner.
“Chiome-chan’s village is more formal than I thought it’d be…… These people, do they really plan to leave this place behind?”
Ariane asked me about the village as she watched my exchange with Ponta.
Indeed, it was possible to build proper houses here, deep in the mountains and surrounded by high defensive walls to keep monsters out.
The maintained crop field was proof that they had been living here for years.
“Let’s just see what they have to say during dinner. I’m willing to help them move with my transfer magic, it’s not my place to oppose the will of the village.”
“I see…… That reminds me, how are you going to get through dinner, Arc?”
Ariane shrugged a little and seemed to accept my answer before pointing at me and changing the topic.
From our arrival in the village to the meeting with Hanzo, I had kept my armor on.
While I had accidentally revealed my skeletal form to Chiome in Raratoia, I had yet to reveal it to anyone else. So I understood where she was coming from.
However, I was prepared this time……
“It’s okay, I brought this with me.”
When I pulled a leather canteen from my knapsack and showed it to her, she immediately realized its contents.
“Ah, that’s it.”
It was none other than the hot spring water I’d prepared before we left this morning. After drinking this, I should be able to sit down for a meal without frightening anyone.
The effects last for two hours, so nothing should go wrong.