I continued the journey on the gently sloped road.
The grain fields and vineyards on both sides of the road paint the whole area a rich and lush green.
In the distance, there are rows of mountains under a clear, blue sky. I still have not seen a human figure yet. Maybe they are working on the fields somewhere, so I just can’t see them yet.
It’s been a month since the trip began from the kingdom of Abalonia.
I have finally arrived in Nordende.
The scenery looked identical to how it was nine years ago, with the exception of the sizes of the cultivated lands. as they looked a little bigger now. But, it’s only natural for the area to expand, as nine years have gone by.
The scent of earth and the smell of grass tickle my nostrils as the gentle wind blows.
I closed my eyes for a moment to the feeling of wind blowing towards me, then I gazed at the scenery that stretched as far as the eye could see.
If I continue to head straight on this road, I should be able to find some village homes ahead. Then, behind there, should be where the flowers that I was once captivated by are at.
That was the place I even dreamed of during the trip. I feel a little anxious after thinking about it again.
Suddenly, something came into my field of vision as I looked at the beautiful vineyards. It was a person who was walking while carrying a jute bag on her shoulders.
Then, a woman who was working in the vineyard came out.
She has lightly tanned skin, with a barrette clipping up her red-colored hair behind her head. Her height seems to be in the 160s, in centimeters, but her physique is unclear due to the thick work clothes she’s wearing.
The woman with red hair walked towards me elegantly, with her red-colored eyes looking right at me. Her strong will power is displayed by the sharp look of her eyes.
For the time being, it would be awkward if I stay silent, so I should say something to let her know that I don’t have any hostile intentions.
「….Hello. Um, and you are? I have not seen you around here before, so I couldn’t help but worry since you’ve been zoning out doing nothing while standing in front of someone’s fields」
She is glancing over with the eyes of someone who saw a suspicious person.
Seeing her as someone who returned my greetings gracefully, she doesn’t seem to be a bad person for now. Her tone was a little severe, but from her point of view, I could be seen as a suspicious person who was standing in front of her fields. Oh well, a newcomer coming into a countryside village will usually be greeted like this.
「Um, my apologies. I’m someone who came here, wanting to move into this village. I am not someone suspicious」
She muttered “Hmmm” in a light tone in return.
「…Black hair and black eyes, huh… 」
I didn’t quite catch what she said just now because of how quiet she was, so I unintentionally let out a questioning reply.
「Oh, It’s nothing. So, where did you come from? 」
「The kingdom of Abalonia」
She looks unsatisfied from my answer, but if I hesitated to answer here it would make me look suspicious, so I answered her honestly.
「You came from a place that is extremely far away, huh? Well… you didn’t look like a thief to me when I first saw you anyway. I’ll guide you to the village chief’s place」
When I came here nine years ago, I never got to pay a visit to something like the village chief’s house. It’s reassuring to have someone to guide me around.
「There’s no point in leaving a stranger wandering here by himself, because it would make the people around uneasy. Come with me」
The girl waved her hand at me as if she’s saying “don’t sweat it; it’s not a big deal”. Then, she turned around and started walking.
While thinking of what a open-hearted person she is, I started to follow her while keeping quiet.
As I followed behind the woman, village homes with brown-colored rooftops that are lined up in rows very close to each other could be seen in the distance. Perhaps there, the most condensed part of the village, is the central part of the village.
Aside from that area, there are fewer houses, and they are scattered over the place.
There should be several hundred people living in this village if the population hasn’t increased explosively since the last time I was here.
We kept on going for a while as we crunched through the road of soil and grass. Then, we encountered a man who was pushing a wagon.
「Oya, Aisha, who is this man? 」
Naturally, the man who doesn’t know me stopped his feet and asked.
He called this woman, Aisha.
「I came to move here」
「Ohh, I see. That’s something I don’t hear about every day. I look forward to being friends with you! 」
「Thank you, I look forward to it as well!」
I bowed my head to the man who was showing a friendly smile.
「Oya oya, you are quite a mannered person」
The man looked like he was a little taken aback, then he replied while smiling brightly.
Maybe I had awakened to the natural reactions that were ingrained in me since the start of my adventurer days from the relationships I had with my senior adventurers. Back in those days, even though I was just a newbie adventurer, I displayed the same, respectful formalities as one would have if they were trying to become an apprentice of a strict craftsman.
「…He would like to receive permission from the village chief to move in」
Aisha-san, please, there’s no need to broadcast what we’re doing.
She seems to be the type who would say everything out loud, clearly.
「Hmm… If it’s this guy, I think it’ll be alright. Well, let me know if he gets approved」
The man seems to be quite accustomed to how Aisha acts, and started pulling his wagon while smiling cheerfully.
◆ ◆ ◆
After running into similar scenarios a few times while walking with Aisha, we have reached the central part of the village, where many private homes gathered.
I can feel the gazes coming from the men who are doing various types of housework, and the women who are drying laundry. I’m already used to this, since it was like this all the time in the adventurer’s guild after all.
It’s the same thing no matter if you are a newcomer to a village or a newbie adventurer starting out.
Although, it feels better here because being here isn’t at the same level as being suddenly surprised by the stares of rough adventurers. However, being surrounded by eyes from the distance feels uncomfortable in its own way.
If I didn’t have Aisha accompanying me here, it would have been much worse.
I would like to be able to get to a point where I can completely ignore everyone’s eyes.
Let’s just take a look at the scenery around for now.
Compared to nine years ago, the number of flowers planted seems to have increased, and this village feels like it’s even more glamorous than before.
There are flowers in warm colors like red and yellow, as well as in cold colors, like blue and purple.
I feel nothing but joy when I look at those homes.
That one household over there seems to have used different colors to showcase a skillful gradation.
How do you plant it in order to get it to be like that?
Nordende’s flowers are so beautiful, after all.
Even though flowers can’t become food that can be eaten, I would still take my time to carefully nurture them in my own home.
「This village is always so beautiful when the flowers bloom」
「Always? Have you been here before? 」
Aisha, who was walking ahead of me, looked back and asked in response after catching the mutters I let out while checking out the flowers from the villager homes.
「Just once, nine years ago」
「Nine years ago?! 」
Aisha shouted with a voice that’s a little loud after hearing what I said.
For a girl who seemed like she could always keep her composure, it was surprising to see her surprised.
「Yeah, but is it really that surprising? 」
「No, it’s nothing. Sorry about that」
To my question, Aisha gave an answer in a brittle tone to move on with her verbal mistake.
No, wait, even if you say it’s nothing, you got me really curious about this… Did I do something when I was here nine years ago? I can’t remember it well.
「We’re here. The village chief’s house」
I wanted to ask Aisha again what she was surprised about, but it seems we have arrived at the village chief’s place.
It’s a large house built slightly away from the central buildings of the village. Among these buildings, there is also what looks to be some type of warehouse that is used to store food.
Lush green grass is growing all around the surrounding area of the house. It looks like it would feel really comfortable to lie down on the grass.
「Here, huh… 」
「Well then, hurry and go in」
As soon as I start to prepare myself to go in… *knock* *knock*, Aisha already started knocking on the door.
…Hmm what’s happening? Why am I feeling nervous even though I’m not meeting a person of high social standing? Is it because of the possibility of me not being able to live here if the village chief says no? I feel like I don’t even get this nervous when fighting monsters.
Before long, I heard a female voice coming from behind the door answering “Haii”.
「I, ah, come on in-」
After hearing that reply, Aisha opens the door with no worries and enters the house. Is it okay to not wait for the person on the other side to open the door herself?
「Hurry and come in」
After Aisha said so, I entered with her together while being a little hesitant still.
「Ara, I knew it. It’s Aisha-chan 」
The person who greeted us was a beautiful woman with wavy blonde-colored hair and jade-colored eyes.
I thought this person should be quite old, but she looks like a wife who managed to keep a beautiful face that showed no signs of aging.
… I think I have seen her somewhere before. Is it just in my head?
「Fiona-san, aren’t I old enough for “-chan” to not be added behind my name anymore when you say my name?」
「I have been watching you play like my daughter ever since you were a little girl, so Aisha-chan will always be a child in my heart, you know? 」
The lady fended off Aisha’s protest with a smile.
Aisha seems unable to come up with another retort, and her body moved a little as if she’s embarrassed. Apparently, for a straight-forward person such as Aisha, Fiona is an opponent who she is no match for.
「So, you brought a guest who I have never seen before here, huh? Are you introducing me to your boyfriend? 」
The lady calmly looked this way with her jade-colored eyes.
Having Aisha as my girlfriend wouldn’t be the worst idea, but she looks like someone who would hold her man under her thumb.
「That’s not it. He came from the kingdom of Abalonia, wanting to move into this village. 」
「Oh my..coming from such a far place. Come on in and talk in detail with my husband, who is the chief of this village」
Rather than looking like my girlfriend, she looks more like someone who lives in this house. In order to have a talk with the village chief, we were guided to a room inside by the village chief’s wife.