Chapter 91: Thank you
During sunset, the exhausted, but nevertheless still looking as though he had plenty of energy to spare,『Winter Demon』 fled town, marking the end to the festival.
As the finale, everyone was recommended to enjoy the moment as much as possible in order to make their wish that spring would arrive as soon as possible come true.
The current moment during the winter solstice festival where everyone enjoyed midwinter to the fullest matched the Zoltan people’s disposition the most. Even when compared to the other seasonal festivals, the winter solstice festival always felt the most exciting.
“Hey hey, I heard that there are nobleman’s children dancing there.”
“No way, I’ll go take a look too!”
“Let’s all go together and aim to get rich quick!”
Three young girls conversed as they ran. Among them seemed to be one Zoltan girl who had her eyes set on her future.
Tise placed Ugeuge-san on her palm and Ugeuge-san stared at the coming and going of people through the gap between her fingers.
They were going at their own pace but it seemed that Tise and Ugeuge-san were enjoying the festival judging from their expressions and gestures.
Just as I was looking at Tise, I felt a tug on my clothes. It was Ruti who tugged my clothes.
“Onii-chan, thank you for today.”
Ruti said and showed a smile.
“I enjoyed myself.”
I pat Ruti’s head. Ruti accepted it with squinted eyes.
“But we still have not done one last thing.”
I took Ruti’s hand. Ruti’s face blushed slightly.
“Will you dance with me?”
“Me, with Onii-chan? … really?”
“There’s nothing wrong with a pair of brother and sister dancing.”
Ruti looked back at Lit’s direction. Lit waved at her to go ahead with a smile.
“But, the last time I danced was during the end of the winter solstice festival before Onii-chan entered the knight order. I can’t dance well?”
I tugged Ruti’s hand instead of answering.
“Dancing well is not the goal. The goal is to have fun dancing during the winter solstice festival.”
Demons were said to hate joy. Of course, having fought with the Demon Lord Army, we know that as mere superstition.
However, even if it was superstition, if the aim was to spend today joyfully then there was no reason to deny that claim.
” … Un.”
I extended my left hand and Ruti hesitated a little before she tightly gripped my hand.
Zoltan’s musicians played a light-hearted song of spring. The Half-Elves were playing wooden vertical flutes used by the Wood-Elves. The exact name of the instrument was never conveyed so they were referred to as elven flutes.
There were very few records regarding the practices of the Wood-Elves and many customs left in mystery but according to the records left by humans, the Wood-Elves apparently practice the tune of that flute to dedicate it to their lovers.
Although now, that Wood-Elf custom was not retained and the flute was only used as a musical instrument known to produce beautiful music and enjoyed as an exotic instrument that differed from the usual human musical instruments.
Ruti and I matched the combined flute and violin tune and dance along with simple but enjoyable steps. We held hands and danced. Ruti’s face illuminated by the setting sun was red but she seemed to be having fun.
“Is this all right?”
“Am I allowed to have this much happiness.”
“I allow it. Until now, Ruti has been hurt countless times for the sake of some other person’s happiness. It is about time you enjoyed your own happiness.”
Ruti stared at me continuously as we danced.
I wrapped my hands around Ruti’s waist and raised her body up as we spun.
I had always wanted Ruti to be happy.
She was the 『Hero』but more importantly, Ruti was my younger sister. It was painful for me to watch Ruti get hurt as the 『Hero』.
And my inability to act as Ruti’s strength was mortifying.
“Onii-chan, than …”
I interrupted Ruti as she tried to thank me.
“Thank you for being happy.”
“Ah, uu …”
Together with a tearful Ruti, we spent the finale of the festival as brother and sister.
Night. Zoltan’s harbor.
“Today has been terrible.”
The self-proclaimed Drake Rider Otto tottered as he walked.
He had an air of a knight when he wore the armor but his figure where he walked while hugging his body due to the cold because of the tattered clothes he wore during the chilly night revealed his actual divine protection as a mere 『Sailor』.
“Hah, maybe I should just return to Veronia.”
Otto, born into a fisherman’s household in his hometown, was treated as the village hero due to his large body. His 『Sailor』divine protection was also perfect for a fisherman so the village placed a lot of expectations on him.
That eventually inflated Otto’s ego.
Saying that he was a man born to be a great person, he left the village amidst the dumbfounded villagers and applied for the Veronia navy.
However, the Veronia navy with the rising number of pirates was an unforgiving environment for a guy like Otto who was pampered since young in his village.
On the inferior Veronia galley ship where he could not escape from, instead of working as a navigator, he was only tasked to work as a rower and faced unreasonable harassment from his superiors every day.
His life would have been different if he decided to return to his hometown then but Otto dreamt that ‘I am not a tool for somebody to use. I will the lord of my own domain and castle.’, so after riding on the warship for three years, he took the retirement money and set off on a journey to become a knight in the Avalonia Kingdom.
Since then, he failed to get any results and transferred between towns until he finally flowed over to the frontier town of Zoltan.
“Even though I had imagined how it should have been when I heard there were giants occupying a castle.”
Hill Giants were not particularly strong foes as monsters. Otto believed that he would be able to succeed and had once actually gathered seven companions to assault the castle.
Using his self-proclaimed Drake Rider title, he gathered two C-rank, four D-rank and one E-rank adventurer. In addition, he hired two mercenaries who had just flowed into Zoltan and formed a party of ten with Otto included.
In the end, they failed to defeat even a single Hill Giant and they fled for their lives.
Monsters with high intelligence are capable of growing their Divine Protection and the Hill Giant capable of occupying a castle, Hill Giant Dantak, was probably a kind of Hill Giant ‘Hero’.
It was an opponent that the current Otto had no chance of winning against.
Otto was no longer young and he was troubled if it was about time he returned home and lowered his head to apologize to his fellow villagers.
Furthermore, his divine protection level was raised by the battles he fought so it should be higher than that of the villagers so he would probably not be treated badly.
Otto pondered as he hugged the food he received while he was scolded severely from today’s festival part-time job and walked toward his inn in the harbor.
That was when dark shadows suddenly ran through the darkness in the harbor.
Otto cocked his head.
It was really strange. Even though it would be fine to leave it be, that man Otto whimsically walked into the darkness.
There were three men with short swords surrounding a female figure with her back to the wall.
Otto squinted his eyes, deciding that he would help if she was a beauty but she seemed to be an old lady with a bent waist.
At first, Otto was disappointed and wanted to leave but the figure of that old lady reminded him of his mother whom he had not met for a long time and he felt a sense of filial piety that was out of character.
His personality was to act immediately after he makes a decision.
Otto swiftly charged over, punching a man suddenly from behind and grabbing another by his neck before slamming him hard into the wall.
“Oi oi, what are you guys doing on such an auspicious day.”
The last man was shocked and jumped back to distance himself.
Then, with cat-like agility, the man leaped at Otto.
Otto threw the food package he held in his left hand.
The contents spilled out and blocked the man’s vision for a second.
That was when Otto swung his leg with a large arc. It hit the man squarely on the face and the man spun through the air before slamming down to the ground.
Taking that chance, Otto lifted the old lady with both his hands and quickly fled the scene.
(This is bad, those guys are absurdly strong.)
He was unscathed because of his surprise attack and due to his luck but it was actually quite dangerous. Even though he hit them with all his might, the men were already getting on their feet.
Since he didn’t have any weapons or armor, he would be killed if they caught up so Otto hurriedly ran toward a direction where there were people.
However, he quickly felt presences behind him.
“Serious? They’ve already caught up!?”
He had put quite some force into the punches and kicks so he thought that they won’t be able to move for a while but it seemed that they actually didn’t suffer much damage.
Sensing danger to his life, Otto desperately ran.
“What is it aunty, you will bite your tongue if you talk!”
“I believe you will survive if you put me down.”
The old lady said apologetically. Otto gave a blank look after hearing that.
“I have no intention of doing that.”
Otto said as he rounded the corner and reached a street where he saw a young girl with short stature. A small jumping spider rode on her shoulder and she held a bowl with an excessive amount of chikuwas in her hand.
“Oya, aren’t you that pitiful 『Drake Rider』?”
“Geh, you are from that time.”
“What is this? Now you are resorting to kidnapping? I think it would be better to let you suffer some pain?”
Tise glared at Otto suspiciously but Otto shouted.
“Dangerous guys are chasing up behind me! Go hide somewhere!”
Tise looked behind him and saw three male figures.
Tise’s eyes narrowed when she saw the face of the man chasing after him.
The next instant, Tise dashed over.
Tise passed by Otto with the lightness of the wind.
Otto anxiously turned to look back,
“I didn’t expect to meet assassins who left the guild here.”
And saw three unconscious men with the whites of their eyes showing and the figure of Tise holding her bowl of oden.
Not a single drop of the oden soup in the bowl was spilled.