Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Setting Off For Their New Home」Part 1
Early in the morning, the night’s indigo sky had yet to give way.
The village seemed like an island surrounded by a sea of mist as the valley was blanketed by the mist descending from the Calcutta mountain range.
In the yard in front of the Blade Heart Clan’s headquarters, a group of robust looking people carrying heavy equipment had gathered. The were other people as well, looking at the gathering from a distance.
I stood at the center of the group in my full set of armor with Ponta tiredly yawning on top of my helmet.
A cool morning breeze blew through the area and caused Ariane’s beautiful long white hair to briefly dance in the wind as she checked her leather armor, as Chiome calmly stood beside her dressed in her usual grabs.
Goro, the village chief and Pitta, the head of security from yesterday’s meeting, were also here.
After spending a long amount of time explaining my circumstances to Goro and Hanzo, Ponta finally ran out of patience and didn’t stop howling until dinner began.
The meal consisted of dumplings made from wheat flour, monster meat and wild plants that grew in the area. It was quite delicious, despite the peculiar taste.
Since the meat and vegetables were only seasoned with a little salt, the meal could have had a bit more variation in taste.
When I talked to Chiome later, she informed me that wheat was a rare commodity in the village and that the broth used in the dumplings had been set aside for special occasions.
As an outsider, the village seemed perfectly fine, but beneath the surface there was a pressing issue of food rationing.
Hopefully the land we’re heading to would relieve that issue……
That thought crossed my mind as I looked at the advance group.
There was a woman of nearly equal height to Goro, speaking with him as she effortlessly held a large battle axe over her shoulder.
She was a little under two meters and fifty centimeters tall. She had short, chestnut colored hair, small round ears and wore a set of red leather armor.
Based on her build, she must belong to the bear clan.
When he noticed me looking at them, Goro lowered his head towards me as he and the women came over.
“Arc-dono, my people will be in your care today. Allow me to introduce Rose, my daughter and Pitta’s second in command.”
Expressing his gratitude, Goro stepped aside and introduced his daughter to me.
The large woman called Rose give me a short nod and held out her hand.
“My name is Rose. Just as my father said, I will be second in command for this mission. The people of this village are forever indebted to you, Arc-san.”
“Rose-dono. Well, I hope your trust isn’t misplaced.”
She seemed to be in a cheerful mood because when I shook her large hand, which didn’t seem to belong to a woman, she offered me a toothy grin.
I thought that I had a pretty large physique, but apparently there were people with even larger builds in this world.
The members of the bear clan are people that humans would fear for their physique alone.
The gap between races was larger than I had imaged, at least that’s the thought that crossed my mind when I looked at her.
Before I could dwell on it any further, Hanzo suddenly came up behind me.
“Arc-dono, the preparations are complete. Everything is ready for you.”
When I turned towards Hanzo, I saw that the group that had gathered in the yard were now standing behind the smiling old man.
The rabbit man Pitta stood beside Hanzo, wearing black leather armor with two short swords hanging from his waist and a gruff smile on his face.
Her perception must have been incredibly sharp since I felt Ponta slipping back on my helmet. I even had to stroke her chin to pacify her.
For some reason, she just didn’t seem to like Pitta.
The advance party consisted of ten people: Ariane and me, Pitta and Rose as the respective leader and second-in-command, two of the great ninjas Chiome and Goemon and four warriors from the village.
It was a rather small scouting group, but the purpose of this expedition was to see if the land was viable enough for a large group of people to live on.
Therefore this small group was just the right size.
“Understood. I’ll transfer us to the base of the mountain the residence sits on. Everyone gather together.”
Hanzo nodded along when I called out to the advance party. They collected their large amount of baggage and surrounded me.
After easing the worries of the villagers who had come to see everyone off, Hanzo looked upon us one more time.
“I’ll await the good news.”
In response to Hanzo’s sendoff, I invoked my long distance transfer magic.
“Here we go. 【Transfer Gate】!”
A large, pale magic formation appeared beneath the feet of the advance party and the next moment the view in front of us had changed.
The party members around me were in various states of admiration and astonishment when they realized they were no longer in their familiar village.
We had transferred to the front of the torii at the base of the mountain that housed the Dragon King’s Tree, which was visible even from here.
“Huh, the scent is different from the forest in the Calcutta mountains……”
Pitta’s long ears stood straight up and his nose twitched several times as he tried to get an impression of the surroundings.
“Though I’d heard about it, it feels a little strange to instantly move to a different location.”
Rose muttered as her eyes roamed over the scenery all around her, while a man with pierced, triangular ears was frantically looking around as if he was trying to cope with the sudden shift.
“What!? Nee-san, what is this!?”
“What’s the matter, Gin? A warrior chosen for the advance party shouldn’t make an anxious expression like that. Even the fluffy fox is more composed than you.”
Rose laughed at the young warrior called Gin as she looked at Ponta, who was scratching her ears with her hind leg.
The 190cm tall Gin was anything but dainty, but since he only reached Rose’s shoulders, coupled with her large build, the scene looked like an older sister teasing her younger brother.
Given the shape of his tail and ears, Gin belonged to either the wolf or dog clan.
His tail and ears sunk at Rose’ barb, like a dog that had just been reprimanded by its master.
“We’re still in an unknown area so don’t get too relaxed. Check your luggage while you can.”
After calling out out to everyone who had been paying attention to the two of them, Pitta cast a glance at a nearby tree that towered above us.
Taking that as a signal, Chiome silently ran up the tree and surveyed the area before leaping off the branch she stood on, landing on the ground.
“Chiome-sama, where are we headed?”
“I’ve confirmed it. The plain is approximately three days east of here.”
Chiome offered Pitta a brief reply while pointing in a direction that lead into the forest.
Seems like she verified our destination with a brief glance from atop the tree.
Pitta nodded before turning to the rest of the group that had finished their preparations.
“Brace yourselves, the future of every village rests on our shoulders!”
At Pitta’s rallying shout, Rose and the other warriors brandished their weapons and gave a boisterous battle cry.
With Pitta at the head we began our trek into the section of forest that Chiome had pointed out.
Ariane, Chiome, Goemon and I brought up the rear in case something managed to attack us from behind.
From here on out this would be a survival march.
Since the members of this group consisted of races that were used to travelling through mountains and forests, we were able to advance at a speed normal humans wouldn’t be able to match.
Furthermore, when the surroundings became favorable I would use transfer magic to quicken our pace even more.
Since the others were capable of detecting monsters before they came in sight, today’s travels were completed without incident.
As dusk fell upon the land, our party began setting up camp for the night.
The baggage we all had brought along contained ingredients for meals and tent parts, so everyone began preparing.
However, Ariane and I were treated as guests and excluded from the work.
Because Pitta prevented me from helping with any of the work, I passed the time cutting down weeds around the campsite with the 『Sword of Holy Thunder』 until someone called out to me.
“Hey, Arc, dinner will be ready in a little bit. What are you……”
Turning around I saw Ariane with a hand on her waist and a confused look on her face.
“Oh, I thought of leveling the campsite…… I just got a little absorbed in it.”
I had a mysterious sense of satisfaction as I glanced at the beautifully weeded area while I was speaking.
“Since we’re only staying one night, is there any point in landscaping?”
I was fully aware of that, but it’s hard for me to stop once I’m engrossed in a project.
“I didn’t really do it for any particular reason…… Nothing wrong with a little comfort, right?”
“I guess so, but that isn’t the way a sword should be used, Arc.”
I received a brief lecture from Ariane as we made our way over to where everyone had gathered for dinner.
Tonight’s dinner was a mix of easily prepared provisions, and those on guard duty were already stuffing their faces.
When I sat down and removed my helmet all eyes immediately snapped to me.
Despite the members of the advance party having been told in advance, my appearance was hard to believe unless you saw it with your own eyes. It was an unusual sight to see someone with a skeletal face after all.
My embarrassment of being stared at seemed to have been visible on my expressionless skull.
“Cut it out. Finish eating and return to your post, fools.”
When Pitta scolded them, the warriors that had stopped eating resumed their meal with a bit of common courtesy.
The elves and beastmen had higher sensory capabilities than humans so they were able to see past my skeletal figure. Even though I knew that, I couldn’t help but feel a bit moved by the sentiment.
I thanked Pitta for handing me my meal and brought it to my mouth.
As I took a bite of a tender piece of dried meat, I started thinking about what I was going to do after this request was finished.
My skeletal body could be removed temporarily, but it was turned into the body of an elf…… it would be best to live in an elven village rather than a human city.
If I tried to live among humans with my elven appearance, I would be like a bat trying to join a flock of birds.
The current relationship between elves and humans was too lukewarm at the moment, and it wouldn’t be strange if I ended up like the bat in Aesop’s Tales.
It was a wise choice to secure a place to live in this area.
As I slurped the last bit of my soup, I had come to the conclusion that I had things to discuss with Ariane’s parents, Dylan and Glenys, when we returned to Raratoia.
“……Just like the bat, I shall hide away in the cave during the day and come alive at night.”
Ariane’s sharp ears managed to hear me when I said that, so she stopped petting Ponta and turned towards me in confusion.
I simply shook my head without answering her and stared up at the starry night sky that spread out beyond the trees.
The view of the sea of stars above me was unhindered by a stagnant atmosphere.
I didn’t know much about constellations, but just glancing up at the sky like this caused a strange feeling to well up inside of me.
However, thanks to the effects of this skeletal body I couldn’t dwell on my past for too long and could only focus on the future. At the same time, I realized that because of it I could be happy in this strange world as long as I had a warm meal and people to share it with.
As I stared up at the sky I caught a glimpse of a twinkle before it disappeared while leaving a light trail behind.
I wish upon that star that tomorrow would be another good day.