225 – Mixing Races (1)
For several days, we traveled west.
It wasn’t without tense situations.
In villages where we stopped to buy food and necessities, there were a few soldiers who tried to identify us, with our faces covered by our hoods.
However, every time that happened, Flint showed off his badge, and each time, the soldiers clicked their tongues and closed their eyes.
“Every badge has this kind of power.”
And with every such situation, Flint would smile proudly, reassuring me.
Eventually, we arrived at our destination.
“This is it.”
As soon as Arwind Flint’s carriage stopped, the message was delivered.
It seemed as if he was recalling the familiar scenery once again.
“Just a little walk from here, and you’ll see the lake.”
Arwind was somehow excited, so I left him alone and held Cien’s hand, walking slowly with her.
That’s when Ner grabbed me from behind.
She clung to the hand opposite the one I was holding Cien’s with.
“Let’s go, Berg.”
And Ner’s tail wound around my thigh on the same side.
Ner had been clingy for the past few days.
No one said anything, but it was obvious that her mating season was approaching.
But it was different from the estrus cycles I had seen her go through before.
It seemed as if her long-accumulated desires were slowly being released.
I didn’t know if she was behaving this way because she knew there was no need to hold back any longer.
I looked down at Ner for a moment.
I tried to send her a look saying she needed to hold back just a
As we walked, we arrived at a lake.
It was a large lake.
Surrounded by trees and even tall snow-covered mountains visible in the distance.
The clear lake reflected the trees filled with the life of spring.
The blue sky and the scattered clouds were also captured in the lake.
A cool breeze blew, and newly blossomed flowers could be seen here and there.
I had never seen a more beautiful landscape.
“…It’s so beautiful, Bel.”
Cien whispered beside me.
Nel’s eyes seemed to be captivated by everything, her hand slowly letting go.
The slight parting of her lips proved her amazement.
Ahead of us, Arwin had silently stopped as well.
He didn’t say anything, nor did he look back at me.
He just stood there, frozen.
I left Cien and Nel for a moment and approached Arwin.
I wanted to ask her what she thought.
I stood beside Arwin.
Only then did Arwin turn to look at me in response to my call.
Her tense face relaxed into a bright smile as she saw me.
There was even a faint trace of tears in the corner of her eyes.
“…When I came here last time…you weren’t here.”
Arwin looked down at the ground and laughed weakly.
She slowly walked up to me and embraced me.
“…So, this place is this beautiful.”
Her body started to tremble ever so slightly.
It seemed like she was trying hard to hold back her tears.
Holding Arwin, I made a quiet decision.
However, even while doing so, she threw out a question.
“…Should I live here?”
“Yes. I live here.”
After briefly inspecting the site, we moved to a nearby village.
For a while, we had to continue our lives here.
Until the house was completed, especially for Sien, Nair, and Arwin, it would become their main living space.
Even though they were welcome to come and find me by the lake, there wasn’t much they could do in the process of building the house.
Before entering the village, I experienced the atmosphere from afar.
Having moved through various villages, I could read the atmosphere of a village from a distance.
“…It looks fine.”
Flint whispered next to me.
As a merchant with experience, Flint expressed the same sentiment as me.
Of course, we would only know if there would be any real problems once we entered.
I didn’t even consider that unexpected problems could arise here.
However, it was also inevitable that I couldn’t just choose not to enter the village.
After briefly pondering, I ultimately gave the signal.
Flint nodded and shook the reins.
Before entering the village, two members of the burial race soldiers blocked our path.
The presence of soldiers was a good sign.
Still, it was proof that they were concerned about security.
One soldier asked.
“Tell us the reason for coming here.”
Flint answered the soldier.
“I stopped by to sell some goods for a moment. The man next to me plans to stay here temporarily.”
Flint pretended to be someone unrelated to me.
The soldier asked.
“Are they with you?”
“They’re just people I met on the way.”
The soldier then looked at me.
As his gaze shifted to me, I opened my mouth.
“…Our house was destroyed by monsters, so we were looking for a new place to settle. We thought of building a new house near the lake over there… We plan to rely on the village with our friends for a while.”
I bit my lip tightly and pointed to the back of the carriage.
One way or another, it was a crucial moment to get through.
All I could hope for now was that the soldier wouldn’t recognize the true identity of my wives.
At that signal, two soldiers headed to the back of the carriage.
I also got off my seat and followed the soldiers.
Alongside the soldiers, I saw my wives sitting quietly at the back of the carriage, wearing veils to cover their faces.
My wives greeted the soldiers without revealing their faces too much.
One of the soldiers looked at them and asked me.
“…You’re not planning to cause any trouble in the village, are you?”
“We’ll leave as soon as we finish building the houses near the lake.”
One of the soldiers pointed at Cien and said.
“The person over there, please remove your veil for a moment.”
I held my breath.
And then I carefully watched the soldiers’ reactions.
As they requested, Cien slowly took off her veil.
Then she looked straight into the soldiers’ eyes.
“…She’s a human too.”
Fortunately, they didn’t seem to recognize Cien’s face.
One of the soldiers looked at me and said.
“…Have you heard the news about a place called Stuksfin? A human hero named Berg Raiker was born there.”
The soldier spoke to me in a strangely familiar tone.
I didn’t bother to respond.
The soldier then shrugged and pointed to the next person.
“You there. Please take off your hood too.”
It was Arwin.
Arwin hesitated for a moment…then slowly took off her hood.
Green eyes and green hair.
…But her ears were shorter than usual.
I was also surprised by her short ears and looked at her.
I couldn’t tell where her long, elf-like ears had gone, and why she now had human-like ears.
However, the soldiers who didn’t know the difference, just nodded their heads.
I looked at Arwin.
She showed me a sly smile.
…It seemed as if she had used some magic to create an illusion, even if only for a moment.
That was my guess.
Regardless, it was fortunate that she, too, could avoid suspicion without any issue.
“Next person, please take off your hood.”
The last one was Ner.
Honestly, Ner was the most at risk.
White-tailed and white-haired wolf people were uncommon.
Furthermore, Ner’s white fur was too famous as his trademark.
I wondered what lie I would have to come up with next.
Ner seemed nervous, too, trembling as he took off his hood.
First, his two pointy ears were revealed.
His white hair shone brightly as well.
The two soldiers swallowed their breaths for a moment at the sight.
Ner couldn’t lift his head either.
But soon, a soldier called Ner’s name.
My fists clenched tightly.
Flint, who was watching from the side, quietly sighed as well.
Fumbling with his coin pouch, he wondered how to get through this moment.
Ner’s eyes found me.
Those eyes trembling with fear.
She was scared of being separated from me.
However, I returned her gaze with confidence.
No matter the situation, we wouldn’t separate.
That was an unchanging truth.
Finally, Ner seemed to steady herself and looked back at me.
The soldier whispered.
“…No, how can Ner be here…”
Then, another soldier lightly slapped the head of the soldier who called Ner’s name.
“How could Ner Blackwood be here?”
“No…she went missing in Stakfin not long ago-”
“-She was found and an announcement was made in Blackwood.”
At those words, Ner momentarily raised her head.
I also kept my mouth shut and listened to the soldiers’ conversation.
“They found her and she’s staying in the territory. They say Duke Vergus Riker is grieving for the loss of his knight.”
“…Ah. Those two were once a couple, right?”
“Anyways. So, all the wanted notices in Blackwood were destroyed. Ner… excuse me, what is your name?”
The soldier asked Ner.
Ner licked her lips and answered.
The soldier spoke to his comrade.
“See? I told you it can’t be Ner.”
Ner also used her wit to reply.
“Oh… I get misunderstood a lot. It’s because white fur is rare…”
At those words, the two soldiers nodded their heads and turned away.
I let out a sigh of relief.
Then I locked eyes with the wives who were sitting in the back of the carriage.
I could see the happiness in their eyes.
“Go on. Be careful not to cause any trouble.”
The soldiers soon said to us.
Even Flint, who had been stroking his chest, took out a coin from his coin purse and tossed it to the soldiers.
“Take this and have a drink after your hard work.”
“There’s no need for this… We’re fine.”
We exchanged smiles with the soldiers and entered the village.
And a little further into the village, Flint and I exchanged glances.
“That was close, Berg.”
I chuckled and replied.
“Indeed it was.”
We entered an inn in the village.
We rented two separate rooms.
As we had already discussed, it was an arrangement for the wives to take turns sharing the bed with me.
It seemed we would be staying like this until we built a house by the lake.
After settling in, it was time for a brief farewell with Flint.
There was no need for him to stay in the town.
“Berg, I’ll find some labourers who can help you. And I’ll bring some materials you’ll need for building the house. You take care of the land.”
Flint had already helped me more than enough.
He had already provided for several days’ worth of inn expenses, and handed me a coin purse without hesitation.
Without his help, it would have been unimaginable how hard it could have been.
“I’ll be back, so just wait until then.”
And then he reached out for a handshake.
I held Flint’s hand once again and expressed my gratitude.
“…Flint. Thank you so much.”
“What for… I’m just repaying the debt from the past.”
Flint laughed a little.
“…Hey, both Max and I… would we have been able to survive in that slum without you?”
“…We all survived together by helping each other-“
“-You don’t know how much we relied on you.”
Flint, who had been wearing a slowly growing sincere smile, added,
“I take pride in being friends with you. The hero of humans who used to be my childhood friend.”
“…So, I’m happy to help you now. Just take it easy and rest.”
Soon after, Flint let go of my hand.
He began to turn and leave, then suddenly, as if remembering an amusing joke, cackled and looked back at me.
“Ah, by the way, Berg.”
“You have to be really alive and well until I come back, got it?”
“What do you mean?”
Just then, I was finally able to understand Flint’s words.
True enough, Ner’s gaze had been quite blatant throughout.
“The instinct flowing in Ner’s blood-“
“-Not just Ner.”
Just as I was about to make an excuse for Ner, Flint cut me off.
Flint, who had been snickering continuously, spoke.
“You. You don’t know what kind of expressions your wives are making behind your back, do you?”