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After our slightly chaotic breakfast, the siblings and I went for a stroll around the village. The village was not as large as I would have expected.
I can see at most 30 houses dotting the area within the wall. The village’s population was quite small. I don’t think inbreeding is as much of an issue here as on earth. With the various races here, it might not be an issue. Probably.
Small patches of vegetable gardens and wheat-like fields move along the river that bisects the village. They seem to be quite self-sufficient and require very little trade. I can see some livestock tied to a stable or some posts near the fields too. Huge furry horses and yak-like animals are housed in the stables.
Even the livestock here is fluffy.
I would have wanted to try and pet them, but Mia seems to take me from one place to another. I’ll probably pet them later.
Mia then led me towards the house near the center of the village. It looked like the other houses only that it was slightly larger than the others. It was also near a church and smithery. But the most unique feature in this house is a very old Dao tree near the house. This must be the village chief’s house.
Mia looked at me before saying, “Let’s go meet the Village Chief first, Sir Victor.”
I just nodded and had her lead me towards the house.
“Sorry Sir Victor, but since you know that there’ll be a celebration in your honor. We thought that meeting the chief would be best.” (Felix)
“That sounds reasonable meow.”
“Brother come on. You’re moving too slow.” (Mia)
Mia then grabbed both mine and Felix’s hands/paws and skipped towards the Village chief’s house.
Felix just smiled and I just chuckled at the antics of Mia. She reminds me of the younger children from the orphanage.
Not wanting to spoil Mia’s excitement we three skipped along towards the village chief’s house. Giggling and chuckling as we go. Mia hummed as her tail swished all the way. Felix might look reluctant, but his swishing tail says otherwise.
After a few series of hums from Mia, we finally reached the village chief’s house.
Felix went to the door to knock but Mia shouted just after a few heartbeats. Mia then screamed out loud, “Elder Hugo we’re here with Sir Victor! Please come out!!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle as Mia just bulldozed through everything enthusiastically.
After her enthusiastic shout, she just hummed as we waited, while Felix has an exasperated look on his face. As we waited for a while, footsteps from behind the house pitter-pattered.
Then at the corner of the house, we saw an elderly(?) elf. I can’t say he looks like a normal elderly person from Earth, he looks more like a 40-year-old gentleman with light milk and tea color. His almond-shaped eyes are a deep shade of green, like those of mature leaves from a really ancient tree. His salt and pepper hair was long and silky, was dancing with the gentle breeze. He’s pretty tall like an average athlete from Earth. However, he is not bulky but rather muscled like a marathoner or a swimmer. The muscles on his body and his gait, tell me he trained his speed and flexibility to the utmost. A bow on his back and the leather armor he has on him tell me that he is a hunter or adventurer by trade. He was the epitome of an elf living in the forest.
As he walked closer, he smiled and made a small wave with his right hand. His other hand is occupied with carrying his prey from his trip to the Dao Forest. Mia seeing him, ran and waved her hands as she went towards him.
“Elder Hugo! I didn’t know you were hunting. You should have told us so we didn’t have to make Sir Victor wait long.” (Mia)
“Mia calm down. You know Elder Hugo goes out to hunt every morning, right?” (Felix)
“Well—He knows Sir Victor is here so he should have told us.” (Mia)
“We didn’t wait that long meow.”
Mia then fired back, not to me but Felix.
“See! It’s a good thing Sir Victor is very understanding.”
“You should’ve known better! —and also we didn’t wait that long!”
They were bickering again. Doing a back and forth sparing of who is to blame. I just looked at Elder Hugo who was obviously stifling a laugh. The shenanigans of the two Catkins we’re probably a common sight that Elder Hugo thought of them as two funny bickering kids.
I would have let the two continue but I didn’t want to waste the Village Chief’s time so I interrupted the comedy duo.
I said with a curt bow, “My name is Victor. I am a wandering warrior who just happened to see both Mia and Felix. I am quite glad to be able to bring them home to their family.”
Mia and Felix quieted down and looked like bashful teenagers with twitchy ears and swishy tails. Their reactions remind me how young they truly are. Also, how adorable fluffy cat tails and ears are.
Anyway, Elder Hugo looked at me with an inquisitive look in his eyes and an unassuming smile. His gaze was piercing but not intimidating. It was mostly probing and curious.
He says, “I am Hugo Dao, I am the Village Chief and sort-of-priest to the Goddesses’ and Great Alamid’s Temple. I thank you, deeply and sincerely for saving the youths of this village. If there is something you wish, I will try to accommodate you for as much as I can.”
He then gestured towards his house, before saying, “Please join me inside. Let us talk about your adventure together with Mia and Felix.”
Elder Hugo guided us inside his house. It was similarly built to Felix and Mia’s house. The only difference is there is a large area similar to a conference room. This is probably where he meets important people.
He gestured us to sit before saying, “Stay and sit. I have a lot to ask if you don’t mind Sir Victor.”
After talking he moved to a shelf on his small kitchenette cum dining room cum living room.
“Is tea or fruit water okay Sir Victor?” (Hugo)
I answered while nodding, “Just tea meow.”
He then addressed Mia and Felix, “What about you two?”
“Tea too, Elder Hugo.” (Mia)
“Well, that’s quite the change. I thought tea was too bitter and ‘old’ tasting.” (Felix)
Mia blushed and gathered herself, looking ready to start a new round of bickering.
Elder Hugo then cleared his throat before addressing me.
“Then, you will enjoy this one Sir Victor. It’s quite the luxurious tea made from the Ancient Dao Tree within the village.” (Hugo)
“Meow~ the leaves do smell nice. But aren’t Dao leaves medicinal in small doses but poisonous in large quantities?”
“You are well learned.” He says while putting the leaves in a small kettle.
“Spirit of Water and Fire grant me your aid.” (Hugo)
Elder Hugo’s words sound different like it was prerecorded and played through a vocoder. It sounds song-like and normal at the same time.
However, his speech was the least weird part. A sphere of hot water appeared before flowing towards the kettle like a flowing and fluttering ribbon. Once all of the hot water entered the kettle, I heard a swishing and sloshing sound from the kettle.
“Here. Taste some of my prized tea leaves.” Elder Hugo said as he poured tea on the four wooden cups he prepared.
He then continued,
“Dao leaves have always been used as ingredients for medicine. Also, it can be used as a poison. But it can only be poisonous for a short while.”
He brought the cups in front of us before sitting down himself. He continued,
“Light, heat, and even air destroy the poison from Dao leaves. So, they are quite safe to consume. However, if they are exposed to miasma or even normal mana for too long. The extract from the leaves becomes more stable and it takes a long time for the poison to degrade.”
“That is an important lesson to learn meow.”
“Though I doubt you know that from Mia and Felix. How did you know about the Dao leaves becoming poisonous?” (Hugo)
Elder Hugo looked at me with a probing look. He might be smiling but he is measuring all my words and actions. He even positions himself between the siblings and me. What a reliable village chief. Well, I better ease his worries then.
“I have studied a little alchemy, meow. So, I know that medicine can become a poison when given in huge quantities and also the reverse. Moreover, on the way to the cave where Mia and Felix are imprisoned by the Lamia. I noticed that some of the goblins are using arrowheads coated in crushed Dao leaves meow. So are some of their bladed weapons, meow.”
Then I picked up the cup in front of me and took a sip. Before continuing,
“The tea is good and the smell is not as acrid as the ones coating the weapons meow. There is also not a hint of mana on this. This one is really delicious meow~”
Then I took another sip.
Elder Hugo just smiled and the inquisitive look on his face was replaced with harmless curiosity. He then wetted his lips as he took a long sip of tea. A sigh of content later, then he said,
“I am happy you find our tea delicious. It is a medicinal tea that remedies a broad number of illnesses by boosting one’s natural recovery. It is no elixir but it can help when you don’t have access to high-class medicine.” (Hugo)
“Ye-yeah the taste ish delish—urp.” (Mia)
Mia not wanting to be left out took a sip of hers before making a face that tells me just how much she “liked” the tea.
Her antics completely blew the hidden tension between me and Elder Hugo.
Felix took a sip of his, unlike Mia who’s expression tells me what she actually feels. Felix’s now limp tail tells me what he thinks of the tea.
“Why don’t I take out some of my preserved berries. You can add those on the tea to make them not as strong.” (Hugo)
Once the preserves were out and Felix and Mia made theirs to their taste, we continued the conversation.
Felix and Mia relayed the events leading to their capture and my rescue of them. I then added on how I saved them until the moment we reached the village.
“Then I drowned in fluff and fainted meow~”
“Well, the children are quite boisterous and mischievous. Your kind understanding nature saved our youths too. That is why Dao Village will prepare a feast in your honor.” (Hugo)
He clapped his hands and smiled,
“That’s enough talking. Mia, Felix go on and take Sir Victor around the village. The other villagers want to meet him to so introduce them. But please, try to handle the children this time.” (Hugo)
He stood up and gestured towards the door. And as I stood up, he bowed towards me while saying,
“On behalf of everyone, thank you for saving our precious family. You will always be welcome in our village.” (Hugo)
Once we said goodbye to Elder Hugo we then headed towards the temple beside the house.