Chapter 199 - Volume 2
Volume 2 Chapter 144 – Warm words of hope (6)
The bodies of the dead were covered with a layer of leaves, and were lined up in the village’s square in front of Goddess Nia’s statue. A crowd observed in silence while an elderly priest performed a rite for the dead.
The difficulty of life had become part of Senia’s citizens dating from a few centuries back. The weak race was powerless to resist the forces around them, and they could only choose to retreat further into the dark forest. Cold, hunger and monstrous creatures greeted them and brought about the threat of death everyday.
Everyone looked to the oldest elder amongst them, one whom they regarded as the most experienced in life and the best leader they could have in trying times. The leaders had always managed to lead the citizens of Senia out of difficult situations in history. However, their wise elder was now hunched in defeat with melancholic eyes.
The old man leaned against the cane in his hand, with each wrinkle in his face seemingly casting a dark shadow over him. His sigh of lament was just loud enough for the dark-skinned middle-aged man with a short beard beside him to walk off with a huff.
“Uncle Brynjar, where are you going?” A tall youth beside the old man immediately yelled after him.
“I’m going to take Sifrid back by force!”
“Please calm down!” The youth urged: “Uncle Brynjar, what can you possibly do by yourself? Are you trying to head to your death?”
“I promised Sassa to take care of her….. Even if I’m heading to my death I still have to go and rescue her!” The middle-aged man was stubborn.
But he also knew that it was a remark made out of anger. He turned away with clenched fists, and every muscle on his body was taut with anger.
“Byrnjar, restrain yourself,” The elderly leader finally spoke, and sighed: “Sassa is my daughter. Sifrid is also my granddaughter. I am just as upset as you are….. Once the winter is over, we’re moving to the forest.”
“And what about Sifrid? How about the others? Are we not going to take revenge?” He whirled around to the elderly man with bloodshot eyes.
The villagers were silent with bowed heads.
He scoffed at them and left. The elderly leader sighed deeply again as he looked at Brynjar’s back. He knew that the latter was not going to find the nobles and seek revenge. None of the male villages would turn their backs for the greater good of this tribe. It was their responsibility.
However, Brynjar’s departure still caused a deafening silence amongst the gathered crowd. There was nothing they could really do. Their greatest warrior was a mere Silver-ranked brawler, and one man was no match for the army of the terrifying Baron Graudin.
The silence did not last for long as the priest started his ritual rites again but was soon interrupted by a man running in with clumsy footsteps—
It was Ulf who was in charge of guarding the outer areas of the village.
The crowd tensed up when they recognized him, wondering if the vicious soldiers were back to attack them again. They already took Sifrid, were they back for more of them?
“Ulf, what’s wrong?” The old man said when the panting Ulf stopped in front of him. Even though he maintained his calm demeanor for the sake of his tribe, his fingers gripped his cane tightly to the point it was trembling slightly.
“S-Sifrid…… She’s……” Ulf’s words came in breaks as he forced air into his lungs. His pale face looked as though he saw a ghost.
“Sifrid?” The elderly leader’s expression turned grim and immediately demanded for an answer: “What happened to her?”
“She has been rescued……”
=========== Brendel’s POV =============
The news of the little girl being rescued were quickly spread throughout the village.
But Brendel felt a little awkward from the villagers’ treatment.
He did not expect them to give him a cold shoulder. Even though he didn’t hope to get gratitude, he did save the little girl after all. The gazes that he received from them were of suspicion and fear. They felt such eyes upon them at every moment ever since he and his men arrived in the village.
The man named Ulf returned to receive them and brought them to the biggest house in the village. He explained to them the Elder was going to come over very soon, and cast a complicated and nervous glance at them before he left the house and shut the doors.
Once he left, the Grey Wolves Mercenaries were the first to be vocal about their discontent.
“They are insulting us with their attitudes!”
“Indeed, we should not have come here if this is supposed to be our treatment.”
“There’s no reasoning with these barbarians!”
They complained bitterly but they did not go overboard with their words. Their lord had already stated that their original destination was this village. However, they did not understand why they were here in this remote area, and glanced at Brendel with puzzled looks from time to time. Even Amandina did the same thing, but with the addition of resentment in her eyes.
Brendel had a wry smile.
“You would feel much more better if you are less biased to them.” The youth sighed and had no choice but try and soothe them.
“But my lord these are the people who fled during that war.” The younger Wild Elf sister blurted out with a clear voice. She had been following him closely because she discovered he seemed to have limitless capability to handle problems.
“Dia!” Her older sister yelled. She had cautioned her younger sister multiple times not to interfere with the living world multiple times but she never seemed to listen. She glanced at her lord’s expressions but it seemed like he did not care.
“I care little about their sentiments to us, my lord, but……” Amandina shook her head.
“Yes, I know. My reputation.” Brendel said.
“If you understand this point, my lord……”
“And it means little to me.”
A knock interrupted Amandina’s protest. Brendel nodded to a mercenary nearest to the door, indicating for him to open it. The latter straightened up and placed his hand over his sword as he walked cautiously over to the door to open it—
The door was opened but there was no one outside. The mercenary looked surprised.
“What’s wrong?” Brendel asked.
That mercenary turned around with a strange expression and stood aside from the door. There was a basket of fruits outside. It looked like they were freshly plucked as there were still green leaves and dew on them.
The mercenaries looked at the fruits in surprise, before their faces turned to awkward expressions. Did the person who delivered the fruits overhear their words?
Brendel sighed again in his mind. The Senia might have been suspicious of them but they were definitely grateful for bringing back the little girl. The problem here was how deep the feud between the citizens of Aouine and Senia was.
“What should I do with the fruits, my lord?” The mercenary at the door asked.
“Bring it in.” Brendel said. His gaze went outside the house. The memories of the Viridien village in his memories were different; the Senia had completely abandoned this place a long time ago and it was overgrown with wild plants and trees.
But in this world, they were still here, despite the signs of fights and bloodshed that happened not long ago.
The statue of the Goddess of Hunting and Harvest, Nia, was present in the center of the village and undamaged. She wore a long leather coat and carried a shortbow over her back, while her hands held a basket of hunted game and fruits over her head.
Brendel shifted his eyes to their cottages made out of stone and wood with a reed thatch over the roofs. These were unlike the rumors where they lived in tents like barbarians. However, their old culture was mostly lost and their title of ‘Hunters of the Night’ was nothing more than a legend now.
But their ties with the Druids were still there and as close as it had ever been even from a few centuries ago.
When the door was closed, the Grey Wolves Mercenaries’ grumbles were silenced and they started reconsidering the difference between the Senia and the rumors about them.
Brendel did not have to wait very long as there was a knock on the door once again. This time it was the man he had been waiting for—
An elderly man who held onto a cane entered the house. Brendel immediately figured he was the leader of the village. Sifrid was standing beside a dark-skinned middle-aged man, most likely her father, and they came in together with the elderly man.
“My guests from faraway, I thank you humbly.” The elderly man bowed deeply and said.
“Please refrain from thanking us. This is something that we happened to solve in our journey,” Brendel did not have the chance to even get up when the elderly man spoke quickly. He frowned slightly and replied: “We have our own request to trouble you……”
The old man exchanged glances with the Sifrid’s father and he nodded: “Ulf has told me of your requests to enter the forest, my lord. It isn’t a troublesome thing for us.”
Brendel’s frown became a grimace.
[This Elder is starting off with a lie. Why is that?]
Entering the Dark Forest here was a dangerous thing. Even if his men were to enter it they had to be extremely careful and prepared. If the Senia went in deeper to the forest it would be no different from heading to their deaths.
“Who are you sending?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I’m going.” The middle-aged man took a look at her daughter and at Brendel and his men, and said with resolution.
“(Father?)” The little girl raised her head and asked in surprise at once.
[Are you leaving your daughter behind…..?] Brendel’s surprise was palpable. He realized why the Elder said it was no trouble for them.
TL: I also have chapter 145 ready in about 3-4 hours.