The skies are clearing, and the snow is melting. After the snow completely melted around the Mansion of Golden Hills, we returned to the village under construction. Nothing big happened this past winter, and I confirmed in the new village that everything was alright with the water sources and supply.
“There’s a lot of garbage this year as well.”
Teomer was muttering to himself with a frown on his face. The stone path for the village under construction was still incomplete, with dirt exposed everywhere and dead branches and plants scattered about. It’s also quite muddy, and there’s even some fish lying around here and there, with a few of them bouncing up and down. I suppose this is all due to the recent flooding.
“Well, the bright side is that this provides us with quite a nice supply of fish for the time being.”
Teo could only shake his head as he gave orders to his warriors to gather and wash the fish laying by the roadside. It was really muddy and they weren’t used to this type of food gathering, so it took about half an hour to collect and clean all the fish we saw.
“I’ll also go wash myself in the river before returning. The temperature should be just about right.”
During winter, my new citizens had borrowed the bathing facilities in the barracks, but that facility only has hot water when it’s time to cook food. I think that something can potentially be developed to automatically adjust the flames and provide fuel as an upgrade to modernize the bathing facilities, but unfortunately Kaldia doesn’t have the means to do so. So unfortunately, my new citizens still don’t have their own place to bathe yet. This was one of Kamil’s plans that he left behind, but it seems like there’s still quite a while until it can be realized.
……I don’t have enough money, time, or personnel. Maybe I should write down the ideas that I want to actualize but don’t have the means to do yet. There would be no meaning to it if I forget what I wanted to do in the first place if I have the ability to do so in the future.
The next morning I had the Kaldia army help in gathering up the new citizens’ tents and belongings, and help transport it all by horseback. By noon, the hillside that had been full of tents was already well on its way of returning to its original state.
“Somehow, it feels like I’m returning to a nomadic lifestyle.”
Reka next to me seemed to be having fun while looking all around him. Since the children aren’t of much help with the heavy labor and to not let them get in the way, I’ve gathered them here with me to help with the process of collecting the small metal parts that help bind the tents to the ground. Not only were the Shiru children with me, the farmer children were here as well, and even the children that usually stayed with their parents were here today.
“Unfortunately, this is only for today. I’ll work hard and finish everything so I can come and visit you guys as much as possible.”
“If Eliza-sama works hard, you can really make it happen. Our King would never lie, right?”
“Well, whatever a domain lord says is close enough to a proclamation. I can’t say things I’m uncertain of.”
I answered Reka while I continued to collect the small metal parts. After all, I figured I’d help everyone personally as well. Tira just happened to meet my eyes then as she was sitting in front of me, and she smiled at me. I kept pulling up the small metal parts that fastened the tents, carefully wiped the dirt off of them, and tied them into bundles by wrapping ropes several times around the parts. The new citizens prepared this rope themselves, just like Teo.
“By the way. Sometimes you guys call me ‘King’ instead of lord, why is that? The King of Arxia is the only King in Arxia.”
As I continued to work with my hands, I figured that now was a good timing to ask this question I’ve always been wondering about. I’ve been called “King” by them several times now, and it’s perked my curiosity. Although only other Arxian nobles can understand the Artolan language they speak, it’ll still be quite a bit of trouble if someone hears the children calling me their “King” and can understand it.
“Eh? Mm, but don’t the people in your army also call you Charlie?”
“Oh, do you know the meaning of Charlie as well?”
Even now, I still don’t know why people kept calling me Charlie. Even though Mrs. Marshan is proficient in her language abilities, she didn’t know either, and Kamil started this trend of calling me Charlie that somehow spread to my entire Kaldia army. That’s why I figured that maybe Kamil was using a term from another language or he just made up a name entirely to call me by.
That’s why I’m shocked that Reka, with his Artolan heritage, knew this word. I had thought this possibility to be the unlikeliest, but maybe it’s just that some ancient words have been left over here in the Jugfena region. The Arxian language in the Jugfena region and the Artolan language share an archaic root language. Of course, there are many similar sounding words between the languages.
“Let’s see…… We call you our King simply because that’s our term for the person ranked above our clan chiefs. That’s all.”
That’s all, he says, as he smiled as if he knew some secret I didn’t. I feel from his expression like he’s still not telling me everything, but I have no evidence to base this on, so I’ll let it go. When I happened to look at Tira though, she seemed to have listened in on our conversation as she had the same secretive grin that Reka did.
“Ok, it’s time to get moving! Hurry up and move, Gunther will lead the way!”
In the distance, I heard Teomer giving the order to move out. I had left Teo and Gunther to decide between themselves who would lead everyone on the way, and it seems that it will be Gunther. It seems that the two of them became quite friendly with each other over the winter training the army did. Is it because they’re close in age, I wonder.
“Alright, we should probably get moving as well.”
Tira wrapped up the last bundle of metal parts with a small sigh in her voice. Looking around at all the other children, I also saw those that were disappointed like she was, as well as children that seemed really excited and were having lots of fun.
Among all the children, I noticed that a certain silvery-blue head of hair that really stands out in a crowd was missing. He’s also one of the earliest to physically mature among his age group, so even without his hair color he’s easy to spot due to his height alone. But no matter how much I looked for him, he wasn’t there with the other children.
“By the way, where’s Athrun today?”
“Eh? Well, since he’s so big, maybe he’s helping some of the slightly older children.”
The children that are ten and older are helping the women gather all the cloths and bundle them together on horseback. I looked over in that direction, but I still didn’t see Athrun at all.
“What do you need Athrun for?”
“Nothing. I just got curious since I didn’t see him around.”
“Mmm. Oh, perfect, Athrun’s returning just now!”
Reka pointed behind me, as I turned around and looked. Some children were leading a group of horses in this direction, and Athrun was among them.
“Sorry to keep you waiting! We’ve brought the horses, so let’s begin loading!”
A girl who seemed about fifteen years old was acting as their leader and giving orders. It was easy to tell at a glance that all the children bringing the horses here were several years older than the children I was with. Since our work is finished as well, they probably noticed and headed over to help us get started with the moving.
During all this, Athrun came up to me and slapped me genially on my shoulder for some reason.
“Eliza-sama, I have something I’d like to say to you.”
What’s this about? Is it something that I have to take care of right now? As I finished packing the tools in my hand into a sack, I turned around to face Athrun silently. As if he wasn’t saying anything so serious, he told me something without any hesitation.
“I’m going to enter the Kaldia army starting today.”
……With such a simple sentence, it was like he dropped a bomb on me.
Although he had told me he had something to say, this was more along the lines of a proclamation. I had no idea what was going on, so all I could do was blink and keep looking up at the much taller Athrun.
“If I can’t become a Shiru warrior, I can at least fight for our King and the Kaldia army. That’s why, I’m going to join your army. Enter it, and stay there.”
Although I had indeed planned on recruiting new members for the army soon, it seems that my first applicant has shown up from an unexpected place. He’s a young boy with determined eyes and a direct gaze that look like he’s made a decision he definitely won’t step back from, so my face couldn’t help but put on a serious expression automatically as well. Then, I stood up and nodded as gracefully as possible.
“I shall allow you to enter my army. I look forward to your accomplishments. – Thank you for becoming my warrior.”