Carrying Mel, who had been battered and bruised by the mock battle with Beatrice, I headed for my room.
Outside, the village patrol training was still going on, and the men of the village seemed to be treated better than usual. When the training is over, they are supposed to go to the public bathhouse to work up a sweat, followed by a banquet called a “consolation party”. But I don’t know if they have enough energy left to drink today.
I myself was a wreck from dealing with my grandfather, but Mel was even worse.
I put Mel down on the bed, but the healing magic I had cast earlier seemed to have healed most of her wounds. Just to be sure, I applied the healing magic again, but Mel’s expression was pained and her exhausted strength did not seem to return immediately.
In the room were Sharon and Dan with worried faces, Beatrice with an unusually serious expression, and Liddy with a smile on his face for some reason.
I pat Mel on the head and talk to her.
“You can relax after lunch. I’m going to go say hello to Bertram – the dwarven blacksmith in the village of Rathmore – and Molly – the head maid, I’ll tell Walt Vassell’s wife, so you can stay here and rest.” (Zack)
Mel gives a small shake of her head and looks at me with a grown-up smile, then looks at me with a sly grin.
“I’m fine now. Besides, I want to be with you… so…” (Mel)
I try to say, “But…” and he gets up, “This happens all the time.”
Sharon asks, “Are you sure you’re okay?” Mel smiled and nodded broadly.
“I’m going to stay with you now. Take a good rest today…” (Zack)
Liddy interrupted, “It can be anywhere in the village, right?” Liddy had been in a good mood yesterday and today.
(Liddy is driving me crazy. No, it’s not just Liddy. Mel too… Certainly plenty of places to rest in the village. I can carry her on my back if it comes to it.) (Zack)
“I understand. But if you are tired or in pain, you must tell us. That’s the deal.” (Zack)
Mel nodded broadly and said, “Well, I’m going to go change! and left the room in high spirits.”
Sharon, Dan, and Beatrice said they would get ready as well and left the room.
Liddy and I were the only two people left in the room.
I opened my mouth to ask Liddy about Mel.
“Hey, about Mel…” (Zack)
“You know how she feels, don’t you? Then you’ll have to figure out the rest on your own.” (Liddy)
After saying this, Liddy also left the room.
I was left alone in the room, taking off my gear and thinking.
(I wonder if I can respond to their feelings…) (Zack)
I tried to think about it, but I couldn’t find the answer.
I shook my head and decided not to think too much about it.
(It’s no use thinking about it now. At least for now…) (Zack)
I changed into the clothes in the house.
I put on normal clothes for the first time in a long time – clothes that are not all black – and I feel a slight sense of discomfort.
“It’s not good. I think Liddy and the others have corrupted me.” (Zack)
I muttered to myself as I left the room.
It was still a little early for noon, but we ate lunch and walked down the hill in the summer sun.
Liddy and Mel are beside me, and Sharon, Beatrice, and Dan are behind me.
Descending Castle Hill, we headed first to Bertram’s workshop.
I hadn’t noticed yesterday in my nostalgia, but the village seemed to have changed a bit.
It was not for the worse.
There were more fields and a few more houses than a year ago. I also felt that the villagers’ faces had become brighter.
I asked Mel and Dan about it.
“I don’t think there were any houses up there in East Hill. Besides, I think this was just a meadow.” (Zack)
Dan answered my question.
“Yes. People have been having a lot of children lately, so many of the houses have become too small for them. They built quite a few houses during the winter. As for the fields, Nicholas asked the villagers to expand them. He asked them to grow more wheat.” (Dan)
Mel joins Dan’s story, smiling.
“That’s right. He said they needed to grow a lot of wheat to make liquor. It seems that the people who left for the town of Kilnarc are coming back…” (Mel)
When we asked for more details, we found that the second and third sons who had previously left that couldn’t take over the family home were returning to the village. Neither Mel nor Dan seemed to know much about the details, but it seems that Nicholas is offering some sort of subsidy to help bring people back.
In the past, I had talked to Nicholas about U-turns for those who had left the village and I-turns for those who wanted to emigrate. At that time, I remember that housing placement, subsidies, and tax exemptions were effective for those who wanted to emigrate. I think he was talking about subsidies and housing placement since tax exemptions are not relevant in our village. [T/N: I don’t understand U-turns and I-turns in human migration.]
(Should I ask when I get back to the mansion? If there are a lot of single people, it might be a good idea to hold a matchmaking party…) (Zack)
I was walking among the hills, thinking about this.
I arrived at Bertram’s workshop, but unusually, he was not in the workshop.
I called out to him several times, but he never seemed to come out. There was no sound of hammering, and he did not appear to be working.
I went into the back of the workshop to see if I could make any progress.
Inside the workshop, there was a distiller who was in the process of building a distiller, in addition to the weapons that were being cared for. It seems that Scott, the head distiller in the village of Rathmore, is planning to add more distillers.
Liddy, Mel, and the others were following me, but Beatrice was the only one who looked a little twitchy when she heard that Bertram was a dwarf.
“Don’t worry. They say, dwarven blacksmiths are often grumpy.” (Zack)
I laugh and say, “Don’t worry. I’ve been coming here since I was little. It’s a house I know.”
As I walked to the back of the house, I could hear people talking in the backyard.
One voice is that of a wild man, the nostalgic voice of Bertram, and the other voice seems to be that of a woman, a young woman at that.
(Did someone come to ask her to fix a knife or something? That’s unusual…) (Zack)
It is quite unusual for a young woman in the village to be dealing with a difficult Bertram. Not that he does anything to her, but just the fact that he is of a different race seems to be a hurdle for a rural village girl. So, when people ask someone to repair knives and tools, it is usually my father, who is close to Bertram.
I walked out of the workshop and into the backyard, wondering.
There was a woman there, about the same height as Bertram and him – about 150 centimeters.
She had her back to us, so I could not make out her face, but she was not thin for her small stature and looked like a dwarf like Bertram.
Bertram seemed to be explaining something to the woman, but as soon as he noticed me, he put a big smile on his bearded face and called out in a gong-like voice.
“At last, you’re here! I heard you came back yesterday!” (Bertram)
“Sorry. I arrived at noon yesterday…” (Zack)
When I say that, he says, “I know. You’re the son of a feudal lord, too. You need something from me,” and patted my shoulder.
I nodded at him and introduced Beatrice.
“She’s Beatrice. She’s acting as my guardian.” (Zack)
Beatrice bows lightly, and Bertram looks up at her, more than fifty centimeters taller, and says, “I’m Bertram,” and holds out his right hand.
Beatrice takes his right hand in a slightly crouched position.
Bertram says, “Hmmm, you’re a spearman… Zack’s guardian. Hmmm…. I see,” and chuckled.
Apparently, he could tell that Beatrice was a first-rate warrior just by shaking her hand.
I was curious about the woman behind Bertram.