“Eliza-sama, feed those horses over there as well, will you?”
“Got it, I’m on it.”
Children about my age are running about, pouring horse fodder into buckets. I had also joined these children, having added a large amount of horse fodder into a bucket I was now carrying, heading for the group of horses they indicated to me.
The bucket is heavy, and the horses move about freely, so if I don’t act fast I won’t know which horses are the ones I’m supposed to feed. Although it’s winter, this is still work that will make you sweat. However, quite unexpectedly, this is quite enjoyable, even fun.
“My lord, are you okay?”
“Yes, of course.”
As I nodded to Teo who came to see how I was doing, I must have really looked just like a child to him. With a wry smile, he left without saying anything else.
Ratoka, Earl Terejia, and Mrs. Hortensia had each in succession shaken me badly inside, so now internally I was a mess, as if a storm had just passed through me.
Although it’s a little pathetic to tell anyone, but truth be told, I can’t take any more mental shakeups right now. Especially if someone else is like Mrs. Hortensia, and tries to treat me simply as a child, I’m terribly afraid that something within me will collapse and break down.
Right now I’m feeling afraid of everyone living at the Mansion of Golden Hills. This phobia of trusting others has made even me realize that I’m currently a little mentally unstable. I’m also a little surprised at this little bit of immaturity inside of me.
That’s why – I decided to escape from there. Or in other words, I became a runaway of sorts.
I absolutely can’t bring myself to ignore my work. That’s why, I only ran away to my neighbors’ tents, the new citizens that are currently passing their first winter on the nearby hills. In the morning I’ll still return to the mansion to do my work, but I only sort out and work on the documents with highest priority and importance, and leave promptly at noon. I’m actually only half a runaway.
Originally during winter, my time during afternoons wasn’t spent on work anyways, it was my time to practice martial arts and train with the army, so it’s no problem to only work this much every day. After I’m done training at the barracks each day, I don’t return to my room at the mansion, and come back to the tents instead.
Of course, I’m just escaping reality. I realize this quite fully.
But even so, if the environment around me changes, some other things will change as well. It greatly reduces the chances of meeting someone I don’t want to deal with, such as Mrs. Hortensia and Ratoka. Hopefully this gives me a chance for my emotions to settle down. Well, time should solve all problems, including ones such as my age and my feelings.
“Eliza-sama, have you finished over there?”
When I somehow managed to finish feeding all of the horses that I was tasked with feeding, a girl about my age called out to me.
It’s been almost two weeks since I started living with the Shiru tribe. I’ve been staying at the tent with only children, the same one as when I made my inspection before.
“Ahh, it’s done.”
“Then that’s all for today. Let’s go get something to eat together.”
She grinned and held on to my hand, as we returned to our tent. When I first came here, I kept getting lost among all the tents that looked the same to me, so now the kids here have acquired a habit of having someone lead me by my hand through the tents so that I don’t get lost.
“Here, wipe yourself with this towel. If you’re all sweaty you’ll catch a cold, so make sure to wipe properly, okay?”
“I know. I’ll be alright.”
The children in the tent basically treat me as a “newcomer.” The children find it amusing to help take care of me as I’m not used to life among the Shiru tribe.
The older children aside, even the younger children behave as if they’re my older brothers and sisters, it’s quite interesting. It’s quite a fresh feeling to be taken care of for once, instead of having to take charge of others.
With no worries, no cares, I really have this feeling of relief.
I’m wearing some clothing typical of the Shiru tribe that was handed down to me. Usually tunics and dalmatics are the clothing most typical of the Jugfena region, and although there’s not much difference in the tailoring, the embroidery has much brighter colors than our region, and there are many animal motifs such as birds and horses rather than plants.
I carefully wiped my entire body. Without her needing to tell me, wiping down sweat properly had been drilled into my bones during my first three months of training at the barracks. While their clothes are a bit different and possibly made from different materials than the clothes I’m used to, I’m already getting used to them.
“Hey hey, what are you going to do today, Eliza-sama?”
“Today…… I have to go train with the army.”
When the sun passes the midday point, Gunther should be arriving soon at the entrance to this simple makeshift village to fetch me.
“Ahh. So much work. Hang in there.”
I nodded at her encouragement, and crawled out of the tent. I was instantly attacked by the cold, biting air. Thanks to heat from a nearby fire, the cold didn’t pierce down to my bones, but it was still cold.
When I covered my nose with my hand as it was hurting from the cold and watching my foggy breath in the air, the girl followed me out of the tent and put a long piece of cloth around my neck. Is this a scarf? Arxia doesn’t use this type of clothing.
“Wrap this around your neck properly. It’s a serious matter if you get a cold.”
“Ahh, s…… My bad.”
Sorry, is what I would have usually said, then I remembered that I was with children and changed my phrasing. To them, they only know simple ways to apologize. The first time I said “my apologies” to them, they all tilted their heads at me quizzically.
“You should only say my bad if you really catch a cold. At times like these, you should say thank you.”
The girl seemed so proud of herself as she said so, and I laughed slightly. Since when had I forgotten how to do such simple things, I wonder? Just like she said, it’s certainly a strange thing to receive a scarf and apologize for it.
“Mm, such a good child.”
The girl grinned widely and caressed my head. I was finally infected by her as well, finding all of this funny, and a smile appeared on my face.