Ashes and Kingdoms v2 2-5

<A Message from the translator:> I’m running purely on caffeine and sugar right now. Probably not the best of lifestyles, but it gets the job done. Anyways, here we get to meet another spunky girl.

2-5: Verdant Leaves

White bubbles flowed over the rocks and poured into the sea-green backwater. Despite the noon sun and the remnants of summer, the water was too cold for anyone to stay in it for too long. Yet, Fin was able to continue to swim thanks to the warmth of the light inside him.

The rest of his comrades had already gathered around the toasty fire by the river. Some were even drinking the fruit wine they received from the Salda tribe to warm themselves up. The Salda tribesmen were cutting up today’s spoils by the fire downstream.

The women could be heard from above the small waterfall as they washed the gathered fruits and wild grasses, cooked millet, and prepared the meals.

Unlike the people from the empire in the lower land, the Salda tribe didn’t possess many fields or ranches. The only staple foods they cultivated were millet and beans and in a minimal amount. The only animals they kept were dogs as hunting partners. This lifestyle slightly confused the group from the lowlands, but since they were treated as polite strangers by the villagers, they were able to settle down in their own place within a few days.

They weren’t required to participate in the village’s collective labor but just do their requested job while keeping their distance—this was the unspoken agreement.

Even today, while the Salda tribesmen were out hunting, Fin and the others patrolled the forest, from the village to the main road on the ridge, and prepared the suitable places to halt the army corps. Because they weren’t used to walking around the mountains, they were drenched in sweat and some were even covered in dirt from slipping. As such, they jumped into the river right after they came back and before they had lunch.

Small, round stones glittered at the bottom of the river. Fin swam against the flow of the cold river and even dove down. He was confident in his swimming since he learned how to in the sea by Nanais, but the water of the river was like a different beast.

Before he could grab his target stone, the water’s weight was making his head hurt. In resignation, he grabbed a random one and quickly resurfaced. At the same time his head broke the surface, he heard cheerful laughter from above the river. When he recognized Leena’s and Nellis’ voices from it, Fin instantly smiled.

Nellis and Fauna have been recently teaching Leena how to do the women’s work. Fin told them that a dragon didn’t need to do that, but Leena laughed and answered.

“Since I finally have the chance to appear in this form, I want to do something. Besides, if I could act as a human, I’m sure…um, that’s something convenient, right?”

She seemed to have some other objective in mind, but Fin backed off, saying “Well, up to you.” She learns quickly and wasn’t clumsy, so he estimated that she could pick up this work promptly. In that case, there wouldn’t be much of a burden on the ones teaching her.

(In the first place, it’ll probably be impossible for her to pose as a human.)

He thought that as he strained to hear her innocent voice. Her pure brilliance could never be hidden even if she were to assume human form and do what humans do. But, it might be a little different if she became worldly-wise after living in human society for many years.

(…Ah, but Leena will probably stay as Leena.)

He opened his hand and looked at the stone he had randomly grabbed. The stone looked like a lustrous jewel—washed, eroded, and polished over the years. But, nothing of its true essence had been changed.

“Hey, Phineas, hurry up and come over! Your clothes are gonna catch fire.”

Varte suddenly yelled. The laughter included in this ominous tone made Fin swim in a panic to the shore.
He held them over the fire, and while they weren’t burning yet, the joke would go too far if he saw burn marks on them.



The joke did exceed his expectations. His comrades surrounded the bonfire. Grinning at him, one face. Another. One more. Then, suddenly, a Salda girl was standing there.

Fin was climbing on top of the rocks, but no sooner did he raise a wild cry, he slipped and fell back into the river. Accompanying his grand splash, his comrades roared with laughter.

Fin popped his head out, coughing. The girl drew closer, knelt on top of the rocks, and peered down at him. She was probably seventeen years old. Her long, silver hair was braided on both sides and tied together in the back. Her eyes were the same as Verdant Mist’s: gray accented with gold. She was a beautiful girl, who while neat and clean, gave off an alluring charm. However, unfortunately, Fin wasn’t currently the one observing but the one being observed.

The girl brazenly stared at the bright red and terribly perplexed Fin while saying, “I heard that the people from the empire were fine showing their bare body. Was I wrong?”

“Who said that?”

Fin growled and glared at the trembling back of Varte who was trying to hold back his laughter. When he did, the girl reached her hand out, held Fin’s chin, and forced him to look at her.

Fin reflexively brushed her hand away. More than embarrassment, he felt anger at being evaluated like some kind of slave. Her already stern eyes grew even sterner, and the girl scowled. But, her target didn’t flinch.

“Sigh. I heard that you’re Deia’s Dragon Lord and had my hopes up, but what a letdown. You’re completely a child.”


What the hell was she saying? Why did he have to be spoken in such a condescending manner by this girl who was most likely younger than him and whom he never met before?

Fin was at a loss for words and couldn’t retort, but then, Verdant Mist came from downstream to help him.

“Verdant Leaves! What are you doing when you should be helping everyone? If you came here to ridicule Phineas, you’ve already done it.”


All of a sudden, the girl’s attitude completely changed. She jumped up like a deer and ran over to Verdant Mist. While she was talking about something over there, Fin took the chance to quickly climb ashore, snatched his clothes from Varte, and put them on without properly drying his wet body.

Because Varte was still twitching with laughter, the string of patience finally snapped for Fin and he yelled in a stern voice while still showing some restraint.

“Varte! Can you please just stop? Because you spout out such nonsense, you’re negatively influencing Nellis! There’s a limit to how much you can say that you’re just playing with me!”

“Oho, you’ve finally dropped the niceties. Well, I apologize, Sir Commander.”

Varte answered sarcastically, but fortunately, Fin didn’t sense any animosity in there. Although Fin flinched a little, he refused to politely rephrase at this point and lowly groaned with a bitter face.

Fin became commander the day they arrived in the village. Verdant Mist brought this up: Phineas will take charge as commander when the enemy army corps soldiers attack. There were several reasons for this.

Because of Leena, he could grasp his surroundings even in darkness, and since the risk of his death was low, there wouldn’t be any concern over instructions suddenly being cut off. His tone and behavior hadn’t yet been dyed by army customs, so it would hard for them to figure out his true identity.

Of course, Varte and Verdant Mist would assist, and since the enemies have yet to enter the mountains, there hadn’t been a single attack. In other words, even though he was labeled their commander, he was only placed there simply for convenience. Furthermore, he was really no more than a student being helped by his seniors.

Fin shook his head in exasperation and let out a small sigh.

“You know that I’m not speaking to you like I’m above you.”

“Yeah, course I know.”

Varte grinned and roughly slapped Fin’s leg.

“You’re the one who lost their cool, boy.”


Fin wanted to say that this treatment irritated him, but he held it back. He showed a wry smile and sat down beside the fire. He felt the same anger being addressed as Sir Commander and noble Dragon Lord as with youngster and boy. In that case, it was worse for him to mind every little thing.

Whether he truly understood Fin’s threshold of patience, Varte indifferently said next to him.

“Exactly. Bein’ caught naked like that ain’t my fault. That little lady seemed a bit reserved, so I just taught her about the imperial way of thinkin’. I told her that if she goes to the city, she’ll see a bunch of buck-naked statues of gods all ov’r, but the most ideal and refined body can’t be hidden behind some clothes—Ow!”

The yelp at the end was in reaction to Fin punching him in the head. While Fin regretted that he hadn’t done this sooner, he was fighting the temptation to settle all scores now.

“You damn bastard. Once you throw away your niceties, you’re merciless even to your elders.”

“If you want my respect, act appropriately. Like, refrain from doing something as disrespectful as lumping the gods’ appearances to ordinary humans. It’s not that I want to hit my elders.”

“Like hell I lumped ’em together. I was just explainin’ facts. I was gonna conclude by saying that ’cause we humans aren’t gods, we’re embarrassed of our naked bodies, but you just had to come out before I could. I didn’t think that the noble Dragon Lord’s butt was perfect or…Ah, I know, I know. My bad. So, stop with the fists!”

Varte grumbling “Sheesh, kids these days,” could be heard. After Fin shot a glare, he sighed in opposition.

“Adults these days getting beaten by people as young as their children—”

“You ain’t my kid?!”

All of a sudden, Fin was cut off sharply. He raised an eyebrow and turned around. What he saw was far from a grimace on Varte’s face; rather, it was warped in somber anger and hatred. He could sense the dark emotions oozing out even without relying on the dragon’s sight.

(I’ve done it.)

Fin regretted that he must have driven a dagger into an old wound. But, it appeared that Varte’s anger was directed somewhere else. Maybe he noticed from Fin’s expression that his thoughts were being read, but his anger turned sullen as he threw dried branches into the bonfire.

“Your dad’s Oandus, right?”


Fin didn’t understand the reason for this strange behavior, but he silently nodded and shrugged his shoulders. He could probably find out exactly what made Varte this angry if he looked. But, if he was shameless enough to forcibly divulge the secrets in someone’s heart, it couldn’t result to anything good.

Fin grabbed a nearby branch and poked the fire to gloss over the awkwardness.

“Come to think of it, where is Uncle?”

“Him and Max went to where the women are. He said that it’ll be too difficult for ‘em to carry the pots back and forth.”

“Ah…no wonder.”

This must be why no one had stopped him from coming ashore. If he had an ally here, they would’ve warned him to wait or even brought his clothes to him.

He looked a bit disappointed downstream and watched the girl known as Verdant Leaves smile and wave at Verdant Mist before running off upstream. Her light steps made her silver hair bounce. The hem of her skirt fluttered and revealed her supple legs.

(How pretty.)

Fin finally had enough time to appreciate the sight, but Verdant Leaves immediately glared back at him. Then, sure enough, she showed a cheeky smirk. Far from contempt, there seemed to be pity in her expression.

Fin frowned as she disappeared among the trees.

“Sorry, Phineas,” Plast muttered in sympathy. “Looks like that girl completely hates you. And it’s gonna be hard to redeem yourself.”

“I don’t care about redemption.”

Fin sullenly grumbled. Although he didn’t know what all of that was about, his gaze was glued in the direction the girl had left.

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