<A Message from me:> The next chapter is out! I’ve gone through all the chapters again and corrected more mistakes….How do I keep missing these things?!
1-2. The Millers of Comillis
“Good job! Looks like you’ll be able to finish by the end of the day. So take a little break.”
A farmer’s bright cheer echoed in the vineyard. The dozen men carrying on their back baskets for harvesting grapes let out grateful cheers and congregated. They leaned against a giant oak tree, and in the shade, they guzzled the cold drinks prepared for them by the women.
“I’m glad you guys were around to help out this year. When I was told to ask the ‘Millers,’ I had no idea what that meant.”
The farmer laughed as the men sitting in the shade shrugged their shoulders and gave an ambiguous smile in reaction. The youngest, a black-haired youth with sharp, indigo-colored eyes who had yet to turn 20, showed a gentle smile and said.
“Well, we just so happened to be staying a windmill and all. We were simply just drifters.”
“Ah, that’s right. There’s been a lot of people like that recently.”
The farmer turned serious and gave a solemn nod. However, he quickly returned to his smiling face and roughly yet friendly slapped the youth’s shoulder.
“But, you guys are different from those lousy bunches. It feels like something went down before y’all drifted down here to Comillis, though I don’t know what it is, that doesn’t really matter. I know that if I ask you guys, y’all do the job properly. Boy, ah, Phineas, was it? You especially got a reputation for being serious and diligent in whatever you do.”
The farmer continued to slap Phineas, causing him to let out a strained laugh since he had already predicted the next line that would come out of this man’s mouth. As expected, the farmer bent down and whispered, looking like he was scheming something in secret.
“I like the way you work. How ’bout it? I got two girls, so you feel like coming over as my son-in-law? I’ll let you choose whoever you like.”
“Thank you for the offer, but I must decline.”
When Fin calmly turned him down, the farmer accepted it without a fight and shrugged his shoulders, dejected. It was customary for the people in this city to propose this offer to any youth, regardless of gender, if they do praiseworthy work. There were times when this really did lead to marriage, but generally, it was just a formality. Fin was surprised at first. However, after he had settled in Comillis for a month, he’d become completely accustomed to it.
Sitting in the shade beside him was Varte who was grumbled in envy rather than teasing.
“Phineas, how many times does this make it? Damn, if only I were 10 years younger… I would’va got myself a wife and spend the rest of my life relaxing here.”
“If you were 10 years younger, then it would be impossible for you to have a carefree life.”
Fin frankly pointed out, causing the people around him to let out a wry laugh. Everyone there was his comrades from Winea. Of course, there were others who received a marriage proposal besides Fin, but so far, no one had accepted.
After these 11 ex-military people arrived at Comillis, Fin had proposed that they go their separate ways. However, it appeared that the accidental knot tying the group together was surprisingly tough.
When Oandus and Fauna went out to ask a man of the city in hopes of finding some place to stay and maybe even some work, he uneasily took notice of the two children standing beside the couple. There was a young boy with a cute face and dainty features and a small girl who would look radiant if she cleaned up.
The man so happened to know of a group of people who wanted children like this at a high price. Therefore, he feigned kindness and instructed them to go to the windmill, and the group staying there would give them a job if they mentioned he introduced them.
The man, of course, did not know that there would be 10 other men accompanying the couple and children.
The windmill and its warehouse at the tip of the cape had been occupied by a group of ruffians for a while. It had been a black-market sort of place, but unbeknownst to them, a certain group was approaching with heavy footsteps…
In the end, this new group kicked the previous occupants out and made the windmill theirs.
The townsfolk, at first, believed that this wouldn’t change anything but ended up surprised when the new group repaired the windmill and actually used the mill.
Oandus’ honest personality immediately drew in customers. With the spread of his reputation and personal connections, other jobs unexpectedly came in and were allocated to everyone. Comillis was a wide and plentiful agricultural city, meaning that there was always be a need for help.
Therefore, the group was collectively called ‘The Millers’ and would work any ‘not-too-intensive’ job. Since they were allowed to take a break and rest in the shade, it could be said that this work was much easier than when they were in the army corps.
However, this wasn’t to say that everyone was enjoying this life.
After confirming that the farmer returned back into his house, Varte took a long stretch and groaned.
“But how can I explain this? I can’t relax with every day being this peaceful. My asshole’s itching. Just a little while ago, we were facing off against the Beasts of Darkness and bandits. Yet, the stains on our clothes are no longer from blood but grapes and sweat.”
“That’s because you’ve been secretly sneaking food.”
Plast whispered this retort, causing Varte to snap back, “No, I don’t!” Fin giggled a little and surveyed the grapevines stretching out underneath this blue sky.
“It certainly does feel a little weird.”
Thinking the grim situation of the north was all fake. Or possibly having the feeling of guilt that they were the only ones to sneak out of that hell.
But that wasn’t to say that those were the only things they felt. Still…
“….But, I like living like this.”
Fin quietly whispered this emotionally-filled statement.
The only response he got from this was the sound of the breeze gently rustling the leaves.
Their break finally ended, and the Millers went back to harvesting the grapes until the sun set and they returned home. As they walked on the suburban path, they could spot the city of Comillis packed tightly between the mountains and sea. And slightly north of it was an army corps barrack.
Though saying that, there was no need to worry about it.
The area the army corps patrolled was farther out into the suburbs, along the line of bonfires on the outskirts of the farmland. There were times when they patrolled the city streets, but they didn’t pay any attention to the group, not caring if they were refugees or deserters. They probably had no other choice but to go to Comillis. As such, matters of the city were settled between the citizens and the vigilante corps. The army corps had their hands full with driving away the Darkness.
With the situation being this, Fin and the others could easily enter the city and blend right in. As long as they didn’t stir up any trouble, they would be allowed to stay no matter where they came from or who they were.
When they returned to the city, Varte and the others made a beeline for the tavern while Fin headed to the temple by himself.
As usual, the temple was also located on a higher ground on the mountainside of the city. Fin climbed the slope with the evening sun on his back and passed through the doors of the Temple of Neena. Nellis was directly in front of Fin when she noticed him and delightfully waved her hand. In Fin’s eyes, several small lights overlapping her image reached him before the sound of her voice could. This was what Leena had probably meant by, “I could see it from even far away,” but it was only recently that Fin had fully come to understand it.
“Good job out there, Big Bro. Max should be bringing Fernaine with him soon.”
Nellis expressed her appreciation before rummaging through her shoulder bag to take out a scroll from between the wax board and her writing tools.
“Here you go. This is the one you asked for.”
“Ah, sorry ’bout that.”
“I said that it’s fine,” Nellis strained a smile after such an honest apology. “You don’t get bored of this, do you? I was gonna go to the library anyway…But I’m sure you said before that if you went inside the temple, someone would definitely find out and cause an uproar, right”?
Her words were full of sarcasm. Fin could only shrug his shoulders in response. He glossed over this issue by opening up the scroll. It was made from reed fibers. As this was much more delicate than those made from parchment, it had been only recently that these types have been allowed to be borrowed. This had been thanks to Nellis’ efforts and the reputation of the ‘Millers.’
Nellis looked from the side at Fin’s hands and admired the age of the work.
Ever since Phineas had settled down in Comillis, he had been getting his hands on and reading every book about legends and history in the temple’s possession in order for him to learn, even the smallest bit, about dragons and Dragon Lords.
“I’ve already borrowed this one, but….anything good?”
Fin replied frankly and rolled back the scroll.
“There was nothing specifically of use here. The contents are interesting, though.”
There weren’t many concrete depictions of the War with the Followers of Darkness or what kind of power the Dragon Lords used. While it did appear that the power bestowed upon the Dragon Lords depended on the dragon they formed a bond with, there was hardly anything that could point him in any specific direction.
For example, the founder of the noble Rofurus family in the current Nornikom providence was a Dragon Lord who had formed a bond with the dragon of the God of Fire, Gens. He controlled flames and was unable to be injured by them. The moment his spear pieced his enemies, they would burst into flames and turn to ash.
On the other hand, the king of the Fidae tribe had formed a bond with the dragon of Olgu, the Holder of Hidden Powers. He had hidden himself and his whole tribe deep in the forest, allowing neither entry from nor exit to the outside world. They have also not revealed themselves to anyone else either.
“The only useful thing I could find here is that apparently, even if a Dragon Lord uses an ordinary sword or spear, they could defeat the Beasts of Darkness.”
“Could defeat? So you’re saying that you could do more than just drive them away?”
“Yeah. Even if one is not using a specially blessed weapon and is in the middle of pitch darkness without even the light of a single candle, one could fight using the dragon’s power against the Beasts of Darkness. I don’t really want to fight, but if I have to, things probably wouldn’t be as intense as they were during the nights in Nanais.”
As Fin said quietly, Nellis shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. Fin placed his hand on her head, hoping to mitigate his sister’s unease.
“I’m only talking hypothetically. Don’t worry.”
Nellis nodded, but her face didn’t lighten up as she knew that this didn’t guarantee that the darkness would disappear from their path. Fin was also aware of this and decided that silence would be best to not unnecessary cause her more uneasy.
He had read various materials, but only one point had interested him so far.
――There was an extreme lack of records about the Dragon Lords’ ‘death.’
Since he hadn’t heard any stories of them still being alive, this meant that at some point, they had died. However, if he were to exclude the ones who had died in battle during the Great War, a majority of them had been omitted from records.
……After all, there were currently masses of ABC Families who took their lineage from XYZ Dragon Lord. But how did the Dragon Lords, founders of those families, live? Did they play a part in the wars between humans after the Great War? What happens to the dragon after the Dragon Lord dies? When discussing ‘What happens next?’ it was almost as if the Dragon Lords had just disappeared before anyone had noticed, their existence diluted in time.
(Guess it’s true that I won’t really end up happy.)
Fin took a deep breath. This could be the reason why Leena had apologized so much. If Dragon Lords had become the lords of plentiful land and respectable families within the span of their life, then there should have been records of their feats and fervent worshippers left behind. Especially since there were quips that the Neenan people of the main country were monsters when it came to recording everything. They would leave epitaphs and books about their clan and their own achievements. The fact that there was nothing could mean that they had spent their remaining years sedentary. Or…
(They were erased from memory. The way they died made their descendants believe they never existed.)
Fin could only hope that this would happen a long time into the future for him.
He shook his head in hopes of brushing away the gloomy thought from his head and looked up at the sky.
At that moment, he heard Max call out, “Big Bro Fin!” in a bright voice. He had brought Fernaine with him from the orphanage.
Fin raised his hand in response and asked about their day. Max responded with a smile that it was the same as usual.
“Today we learned about multiplication. The teacher praised Fernaine, saying that she has a good memory.”
“Right?” Max turned to Fernaine, who in turn puffed out her chest, proud. Now that she could return to properly living in a town, she had regained her usual temperament.
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