Sorry for the late chapter. Was too tired yesterday to go through the editor’s notes.
“We finally arrived. As I thought, this was faster than using a knight’s carriage.”
“To be able to travel that fast without a carriage. It’s an amazing thing!”
They only took a short rest during their trip and were able to arrive at the village early in the afternoon. The trip took them around five hours, and repeating the same task for this long was nothing to a former MMO addict like Yuusuke.
“Yuusuke-san I thought that you would come back soon.”
“I’m back, Bahana-san.”
When she heard that Sun had been appointed as a special attendant for the Darkness God Corps, Bahana gently stoked the girl’s hair, asking her to show her uniform the next time she came back home.
Because they did not use a carriage to go to the village, at first only the people that were near the village gate had noticed them. However, by the time they arrived at Zeshald’s house, the news had spread throughout the entire village and everyone had gathered to greet them.
“It feels like the village has grown bigger.”
“I can also see some new buildings.”
“Hehe, everyone is coming to this village because of you guys. We even had entire families moving here from the other villages.”
Rufk village was being treated exceptionally well due to Yuusuke’s governmental services, on top of that, Zeshald also lived there. The fact that these two people who have done an exemplary service for the Kingdom of Fonclanc lived here, made the village’s name resound throughout the country.
On top of that Sun, a girl that was born in this village, had been appointed to be a personal attendant to the famous Darkness God Corps. This event had even drawn the attention of the neighboring countries.
“Well, this has not created any problems until now, I think it’s a good thing that things have gotten busy around here.”
Looking at the new buildings that have been erected at a site that had previously been a part of the forest, Yuusuke understood that this place had also slowly started to change. He reminisced about an empty field in which he used to play as a kid and how that field was completely gone by the time he entered middle school.
It was much harder to notice in a big city, but here it was easy to see that more people meant development, which further attracted even more people. He thought that when he returned to the village after another half of a year, instead of bringing souvenirs for everyone in the village he would only buy a bottle of alcohol for the people who were closest to him.
“The growth of the village means a weakening of the bonds between everyone, eh?”
Sun bent her head, puzzled by what Yuusuke had silently said. Her captain responded with a careless smile and turned towards Zeshald’s house.
“I’m home, teacher.”
“Oh, long time no see.”
“Mhm, glad to see you back.”
Zeshald looked healthy as usual when he emerged from the doorframe along with Belushya and Elfiona, the former dressed up in her maid uniform, while the latter was wearing a simple village dress. Elfiona looked completely different from before and could easily pass for a shy child of her age.
With the day of the festival at hand, the village was bustling with everyone preparing for the occasion. Amongst them there were even some brave men that openly declared that they would go for Belushya during the festival. Moreover, they were not the villagers but the knights that were stationed here to protect it.
“Speaking about that, a lot had happened during the harvest festival.”
“Ata! It sure was a busy night.”
Yuusuke remembered that Sun was attacked by Thalys, who was supposed to be her childhood friend, while Yuusuke, in the meantime, was assaulted by a swarm of village girls. These memories made him feel somewhat miserable.
“Are you prepared to protect Sun this time?”
Standing before a laughing Zeshald, Yuusuke felt tense as if he were standing before Sun’s father.
Afterwards, the evening had come in a breath. Yuusuke was talking with Zeshald about the evil beast incident and asking for his opinion.
“Hmm, the evil beasts that you described and the man, who tried to sell the evil beasts to Blue Garden, seem to be related. Doesn’t that feel strange to you?”
“Isn’t there a possibility of several groups being involved in the breeding of the evil beasts?”
“Or possibly there is a single main group that controls several smaller ones?”
“Ah! I get it, Can the group be testing various methods to sell their beasts?”
If the way to breed the evil beasts that Yuusuke’s party saw in the forest was practiced for a while, it would have been natural for the damage reports and missing people reports to start appearing much earlier. Since the damage reports had started just a short while ago, this did not seem likely.
“Still, that did not look to be natural.”
Zeshald pointed out an even more unsettling possibility – the beasts might not have been bred for selling, they might have been bred as part of an experiment. The nest might have been placed there to create enough damage to warrant an investigation party that could be used to test out the battle capabilities of these beasts.
“Hmm, no matter how we put it, this situation…”
Yuusuke was remembering feeling similar emotions in a game he had played before.
Belushya noticed that Elfiona seemed to want to say something and called out to her. The girl remembered that she had heard some researchers talking about such evil beasts during her training as a child assassin in the institution.
“So Nossentes is involved in this after all.”
“It’s an old country. It’s not surprising that they had a lot of things going on.”
Suddenly Yuusuke wanted to try asking Gazzetta if they had any information of such a research group existing within former Nossentes. Zeshald agreed to the proposal on the basis that Gazzetta might provide the requested information as a mean of attracting the attention of the Evil God – a figure they held great interest in.
“I will try talking this over with Violet after the holiday.”
“That’s right, let’s avoid making conclusions without gathering sufficient information first.”
With this, Zeshald had ended the discussion regarding the evil beasts.
“We have talked for a long time, I think it’s best for us to go rest tonight.”
Tomorrow evening the festival will start and the dancing will begin on the next day. It was a good idea to go to sleep early tonight.
“Good, I’ll somehow make it in time for the Dance festival.”
Twentieth day of Zalnar’s month of wind, the day before the dance festival. A young man was on Fonclanc’s highway, going northwards towards Rufk village.
“But isn’t that girl living in Sanc Adiet now. If she doesn’t come back home for the festival, our trip here will be wasted.”
“Don’t worry. Zeshald-sensei is also in the village. There is no way that she would miss such an opportunity and stay in the capital.”
The young man insisted that she was not the type of girl that would forget the people that looked after her in the village once she had grown accustomed to the life in the city. His slightly older companion nodded in reply.
“Is that so? As expected of a childhood friend. You really know her well.”
He still had an appearance of a young man, but the calmness that was felt in his demeanor showed that he was a man in the prime of his life. The duo had white hair, denoting them being Artless. Under their simple capes, they were wearing white armor and a helmet.
“I’m going to meet you soon, Sun.”
The village guards were also helping with the preparations for the dance festival. They were moving tables and chairs to the main village square and to the other open areas. Everywhere in the main square, people that had decided on who to confess to could be seen showing their love to their counterparts.
Those that had already decided on their partners could be seen walking around while holding their hands as if to say “We’re a couple.” Occasionally, a person choosing one of the several partners trying to confess to him or her could also be seen.
It was that kind of event where one could unexpectedly find a partner or could unexpectedly remain alone. There were also men who tried to seduce multiple women by simultaneously proposing to two or three girls – these kind of guys were doing it to gain attention, like actors on the stage.
[“Of course I want a lover, but I just can’t choose one.”] The dance festival was an especially important festivity for these kind of men and women.
“Phew, with this the decorations are finished.”
Bahana, who was in charge for overseeing the decorations of the main square, breathed a sigh of relief. She now amused herself by chatting with two other people while overlooking the final preparations of several other places.
“Will you be in charge for the meat this time again, aunt Bahana?”
“No~ I’ll be in charge of delivering the alcohol this time.”
She took the job of distributing the alcohol over the tables that were spread over the entire village so she could eavesdrop on the lovers’ chat and give a few tips. Her responsibilities also included scouting out any potential trouble. Bahana’s reasoning was that the dance festival this year would be much bigger than usual.
This year, the village’s population had spiked, this included some of the knights who were stationed in the village, and had gotten close to the villagers. In addition, several of the knights were even targeting Belushya.
“Hmm. But Belushya reveres Zeshald, doesn’t she?”
“Ahahaha. She does, for sure. It will be a festival of defeat for them.”
Laughed Bahana and continued as she spotted a small figure restlessly walking around a bundle of flowers that were decorating a corner of the square:
“In two or three years Elfiona will also be of suitable age. I am looking forward to that.”
Elfiona, who was being looked at warmly by the other adults, suddenly froze, staring at an alleyway that was so small that it could barely even be called by that.
“Is something wrong, Elfi?”
Noticing the unusual behavior of the girl, Bahana had called out to her. Elfiona continued staring at the alley and only said a single word as she pointed her finger towards it.
“Soldiers, two of them.”
A rustling sound could be heard from the direction that the girl was pointing to. Suddenly, a grumbling voice, that was approaching them, could be heard.
“I didn’t think that there would be soldiers around. It’s a good thing that this place has not changed.”
“It’s because this village had also been through a lot, however some loopholes still remain.”
Thalys had emerged in the village square after evading the defensive net of the knights, protecting the village, by going through the small alleyways between the buildings. He often used these alleys since he was a kid. After a minute, another tall Artless had emerged behind him.
While everyone was standing dumbfounded, Thalys had noticed Sun and, with a cheerful expression, had ran towards her.
“Sun! To see you so soon after returning. It must be fate for us t—“
As he spread his arms widely to embrace the girl, Bahana suddenly stood in his way.
“Elfi, call teacher and everyone else. Make haste!”
Bahana urged the little girl while her back was turned towards Sun. Elfiona gave a quick affirmation and dashed towards Zeshald’s house. As expected, being trained to be an assassin from a very young age, her physical capabilities were not just for show – she ran through a crowd of people like she would be running through an empty field.
“Bahana-san, please stand aside.”
“You, what reason did you come back here for?”
“To greet Sun, of course.”
Upon leaving for Gazzetta, Thalys spent his time training to become a soldier. He had learned various things about the world, met various people, and with that he managed to become a little bit more mature. Naturally, he managed to subdue his habit of going after every woman.
At first he continued seducing women even after his defection to Gazzetta, but gradually he got over this urge and started to seriously think about choosing his lifelong partner. It was then that he noticed that Sun had everything that he envisioned in his picture of an ideal woman.
“So, you were aiming for the dance festival so you could kidnap her?”
“I was in a hurry so I would reach the village in time for the dance festival.”
Hearing the two talk, villagers started gossiping loudly. Knights could also be seen rushing into the main square. While Bahana was talking with the young man, who was seemingly from this village, the other Artless was warily inspecting his surroundings.
“Sun, let’s go to Gazzetta together.”
“I don’t want to.”
Sun’s reply was instantaneous. However that was within Thalys’ expectations. Without flinching he started to try to persuade Sun, telling her about the wonderful life in Gazzetta – a country ruled by the Artless. The artless soldier standing with his arms crossed behind his partner silently nodded to everything that he said.
“Ohoho, little Thalys and an artless soldier.”
At that time Elfiona returned with Belushya, Yuusuke and Zeshald in tow. The crowd had parted at the entrance of the young Hero of Fonclanc and the old, frail looking former Royal Divine Arts Instructor, and had allowed them to pass freely to the center of the square.
Sun rushed to Yuusuke’s side and hid behind the black uniform of the captain of the Darkness God Corps, just like she hid behind Zeshald’s back some time ago. Thalys face twitched seeing Sun behave like this and he turned towards Yuusuke while maintaining his dignified attitude.
“Hmm, it does not look like another plot of King Shinha.”
“This time I had returned here on my own decision, teacher.”
Yuusuke had managed to grasp the situation from Bahana and the way that Thalys acted. His return to Fonclanc and even bringing a White Clan (Artless) soldier with him seemed to be done on the whim of youthful love.
The propaganda promise of an easy life for an Artless in Gazzetta was well within Zeshald’s expectations so he had just the right response for the guy.
“Despite all the energy you put into the persuasion, wasn’t Sun’s answer clear enough for you?”
“I understand the reasons.” (T.N. I don’t know if this meant His or her reasons.)
[Isn’t it better just to give up?] Intimidated by this implication, hidden in Zeshald’s words, the newcomer suddenly turned to Yuusuke and pointed at him, directing the blame towards the black haired youth.
“I heard it on the way here. You had dragged out Sun into a dangerous battle, didn’t you?”
“Eh? No, that’s…”
“Since you made Sun join the military, she will eventually bloody her hands. I would have never made her do such a thing.”
“It was something that I had to do…”
Interrupting Yuusuke’s attempt to explain the circumstances regarding Sun becoming a special attendant of the Darkness God Corps, Thalys challenged the Hero of Fonclanc to a duel.
“Let us settle the matter of who is most fit to be with Sun with this. I will be the one to protect her!”
The ‘crowd had exploded with cheers. Thalys, who had become a Gazzetta soldier, had challenged the captain of the Darkness God Corps with Sun as a prize. The dance festival was the appropriate time for such conflicts thus the crowd was looking forward to entertain themselves.
“You were such a kind of a man?”
“What a letdown, I expected to see the true power of Yuusuke with my own eyes.”
“Not you too, aunt Bahana.”
When she first saw Thalys, Bahana was very wary of him, but seeing how much the time he spent in Gazzetta had changed him and how he had returned to the village solely because of Sun, she could not help herself but to slightly admire him.
It seemed that Bahana tended to enjoy these kind of situations.
[“Well, even if Thalys would win, Sun would still choose Yuusuke in the end.”]
Preparing for their duel tomorrow, a part of the already decorated village square was currently being remodeled to be suitable for a fight.
“Belushya, can you have the healing potions prepared by tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was to be the day of the dance festival. Zeshald decided that since there seemed to be no political implications in the challenge, he would remain a spectator of the fight between the two young men. For now he was occupied with preparing the healing supplies and his house to heal the two that would probably injure each other tomorrow.
“It’s sure nice to be young.”