The calm before the storm.
Chapter 349: The Graveyard of Life
(TL: I’m so sorry, Life. RIP in peace.)
After I confirm Ren and Female Knight had left, I call out to Kiel.
“What is it, Niichan?” (Kiel)
“Do you have anyone you like?” (Naofumi)
“Naofumi-sama, you plan on continuing that topic?” (Raphtalia)
“Let’s see. I guess I like Imya-chan.” (Kiel)
She’s of the same gender. I guess it’s hard for Imya as well. She’ll have to go through the same troubles as Melty.
Kiel was there to witness our lecture to Firo, so she should know.
And wait, I think Kiel’s ‘like’ is as a friend.
“Did you call for me?”
Imya, who was chatting with others in the dining hall, came at the sound of Kiel’s voice.
… Should I ask?
If I don’t confirm it here and now, there will be a bit of trouble in the future.
If I try to instigate them so to leave behind any regret, there’s a risk that I’ll damage their relationship.
Yes, I’ll proceed with care.
“Naofumi-sama, you seem to be planning something again.” (Raphtalia)
“Just think of it as me awakening to my responsibility as the Lord here.” (Naofumi)
“Is it really that grand of a problem?” (Raphtalia)
No, I’m probably wrong.
But still, I won’t stop.
I need to take responsibility for my villagers.
I have to think of what happens when I leave… and there’s also the matter left hanging at the castle.
“Kiel likes Imya despite being of the same gender. Well, Kiel is aiming to be an honorable man of the sea, so perhaps she’ll make for a good husband.” (Naofumi)
“W-wrong! I didn’t think you meant it that way when you asked, Niichan!” (Kiel)
“What did you think I meant?” (Naofumi)
“Since it was you, I thought you were asking about who I got along best with in the village! By not regret, I thought you meant not to get into fights with them.” (Kiel)
Ah, as I thought.
But, she should learn to follow the flow of the conversation.
“Then among the boys, who do you like? No, who do you like based on whatever sexual preferences you have?” (Naofumi)
Even now, subjects like these make me feel a little sick, but I have to consider the future.
Ah, I am aware that I’m dragging out my own problems.
Even so, I don’t plan on torturing myself by waiting until the end.
“W-what are you asking all of a sudden?” (Imya)
“Well, just in case. The world’s on the brink of ruin, so I have to warn you all to live without regrets.” (Naofumi)
“Niichan’s changed.” (Kiel)
I think so too.
I did ban love not too long ago, and I rejected Atlas’s advances.
It’s all Witch’s fault. And mine.
“That’s right… Niichan gets along well with Raphtalia…” (Kiel)
Raphtalia responds to Kiel’s suspicious glance with a questionable expression.
“Well, I like Niichan most, but I guess next is Fohl-Niichan.” (Kiel)
“Yeah! I mean Fohl-niichan is cool, right?” (Kiel)
Thinking back, Kiel did call Fohl’s beast form cool.
Fumu, perhaps Kiel’s energetic attitude can fill the gap left in Fohl’s heart after losing Atlas.
“Naofumi-sama, isn’t it time to bring an end to this topic? I have a bit of a bad feeling about where this is headed.” (Raphtalia)
“Okay Kiel! I’ll permit it. Go sleep together with Fohl! He’s a lonely man. Go heal his loneliness!” (Naofumi)
“Understood, Niichan!” (Kiel)
Kiel runs up to Fohl in dog form.
Her innocence is really something. She has a charm similar to Firo’s.
“Ah… it seems we’ve made yet another needless misunderstanding.” (Raphtalia)
“I’d like Fohl to regain his spirit.” (Naofumi)
That’s my wish.
As I couldn’t protect Atlas, at the very least, I have a duty to make Fohl happy.
He’s made protecting the village his mission, but he’s focusing too much on it and forgetting his own happiness in the process. I’m not sure if he’d be able to face Atlas like this.
He doesn’t seem worried about his possible engagement, but as it’s with Melty, I guess there’s no helping it.
“Regardless of what comes of this, I won’t hold any responsibility.” (Raphtalia)
“I’ll be the one taking responsibility.” (Naofumi)
I’d like for Fohl to find a special someone in this village he wants to protect, like he did with Atlas.
“Next is Imya.” (Naofumi)
I’ll have to confirm it with all the villagers anyways.
She’s not like Sadina, but eventually… she’ll like somwone, right?
“W-what is it?” (Imya)
“Do you have anyone you like, Imya?” (Naofumi)
“Um… that is…” (Imya)
Her face is dyed red as she holds both arms together, and looks at the ground.
Eh? Could it possibly be me?
She arrived in the village in the same manner as Raphtalia, so perhaps it isn’t too strange.
What’s more, we do sleep in the same bed in regular intervals.
Like with Firo, I kept her around because she was fluffy, but she seemed strangely conscious of it.
“Well… that is… um…” (Imya)
“Hero of the Shield-sama, what seems to be the problem?”
It seems people are coming up to me one after the other today.
When I look up, I see Imya’s Uncle.
“Well, I asked Imya if she liked anyone, and Imya, by your reaction, am I supposed to take that as affirmation? It seems that I cannot give myself to a single person, and in the end I plan on returning to my world, but even so, does your answer remain the same?” (Naofumi)
“Um… yes.” (Imya)
Even with her face colored a deep shade of red, Imya nods.
And having sensed the situation, Imya’s Uncle claps his hands in good humor.
“I see, I see! You’ve become a fine woman, Imya. I’m proud of you.” (Imya’s Uncle)
“By the way, you’re quite popular in the village. Do you have any intentions of marriage?” (Naofumi)
On my question, Imya’s Uncle’s expression stiffens. He slowly turns his head to look at me.
His eyes are screaming, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’
“What? I’m just asking about your future plans.” (Naofumi)
I know. I had hid and learned the village’s popularity ranking. Imya’s Uncle was within the higher part of the list. (TL: This was right before the Hououin Kyoufumi Arc)
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, and I don’t know why you’re bringing marriage up!” (Imya’s Uncle)
“Even so, you apparently have high popularity, man. It seems some people have become smitten by watching your smithing.” (Naofumi)
“Eh!?” (Imya’s Uncle)
“Is that true?” (Imya)
Imya puts her hands together and asks.
“I’ll have to give out a few rewards to you all as well. If you ask for freedom, I’ll happily grant it to you.” (Naofumi)
He’s done enough work deserving of such a thing.
Be it weapons or armor or anything else, this guy’s the one who makes most of the things in the village.
“If you have a missing wife somewhere in the world, I could search for her.” (Naofumi)
“Uncle, I don’t remember you having someone like that, right? Even though your looks are good.” (Imya)
“I-I live for my work and a-as long as everyone’s happy with that-” (Imya’s Uncle)
So he isn’t aware of it? Perhaps he’s actually relatively dense.
Is he the type of person that spends so much time helping others that he passes his prime alone?
It’s that. People’s impression of him don’t go further than, ‘He’s a good person.’
“Imya, do you know anyone for him?” (Naofumi)
Why is it that this mole is so popular?
It’s probably for the same reason as me.
I make the food… and he makes the weapons.
The reason I wasn’t on the popularity poll was probably because cooking is more of a domestic chore.
Does it have to do with his appearance? By Imya and the other Demi-Human’s standards, it seems his face is on the nicer side.
Among the villagers, he’s quite old.
Just like Sadina, it’s like he’s looked up to as a reliable adult.
And wait, just how old is he?
It seems he learned smithery with the Old Man.
By the looks of it, the Weapon Shop Old Man’s in the latter half of his thirties, I guess.
This guy should be around the same, so he has a few years under his belt.
“Well, this is only a concern after the wave, so don’t get to conscious of it… I guess. But still, I’m slackening the regulations on love in the village. Please pass on the message.” (Naofumi)
Imya’s Uncle nods.
“Or is it that you’re… gay?” (Naofumi)
“N-no, I’m not!” (Imya’s Uncle)
Is he going to say Blacksmithery is the world of men?
When he was in a village of his own race, it seems he ran a metal goods shop… and it’s true that he’s good at making saucepans.
I believe I’ve heard him say raising kids was dreadful, or something.
He must have been part of a large family. That’s why, instead of his own love, he tends to focus on the needs of others, I guess.
Through slave hunting, his clan was dispersed, and he made his way to my village, which is like a large family in itself. I guess he didn’t have much free time.
“Anyways, just take it easy.” (Naofumi)
“It seems that any and everything is meddled with by the Hero of the Shield.” (Imya’s Uncle)
“Don’t mind it. From now on, the amount of things I’ll ask from you will only increase. Ah, after this, it doesn’t matter who, but go tag along with a Hero to level. If you level, won’t your work become easier?” (Naofumi)
We’ve been able to make new equipment from the materials of the new, higher-level monsters.
As I thought, the higher the level, the better quality of the drops gained. And we have to do a complete reformation of the villager’s equipment.
Right now, Imya’s Uncle’s level is at 40. He kept saying any more wasn’t necessary and refused to level, but in the grand scheme of things, his level’s in the danger zone.
What’s more, his job requires power. I’ll bet a higher level will be beneficial. I wonder why he put it off.
“I’ll be counting on you. Keep working hard.” (Naofumi)
“Y-yes! For the Hero of the Shield-sama, I will do my best.” (Imya’s Uncle)
“M-me too!” (Imya)
It helps that the Lemo Race is one of stubborn hard workers.
Recently, Imya’s started making armor that doesn’t lose to those from the Old Man’s creations.
Is it partly because I taught her how to make and enchant accessories?
Right now, we have to prepare for war to the best of our ability.
The amount of times I’ve stopped by the Old Man’s shop has decreased, and he’s been earning mostly from local orders. He also has requests from the country, so I sometimes meet him in the castle as well.
But his good nature hasn’t changed from the start.
Right now, he’s working to use the Spirit Turtle and Houou’s materials to make weapons for the Heroes.
There’s now 12 of us, so he’s been busy.
I’ll bet Kirin’s materials will reach him soon, so it’ll only get harder and harder.
Sometime soon, I’ll have to stop by to come to an agreement on the costs.
Ah, right. Through the carriage’s enhancement method, I fed monster drops into the Shield to unlock temporary money acquisition raises, but I barely managed to get the value of what I put into it.
I didn’t gain as much money as expected, and I barely broke even.
I also tried to cheat by placing a freshly minted silver coin into the Shield, but it only got registered as the material Silver.
It seems that money has to have been put into market circulation before it can be used in enhancements.
While I was lost in thought, Fohl burst into my house with Kiel under his arm.
“W-what happened?” (Naofumi)
“I heard it. You told her that I was lonely, so she had to sleep with me!” (Fohl)
“Pretty much.” (Naofumi)
“Niichan, Fohl-niichan’s gotten a lot more energetic!” (Kiel)
How’s that for ya?
And wait, why is Kiel being carried like that?
It’s quite an interesting scene.
“Ah, as I thought, it ended up like this.” (Raphtalia)
Firo’s supporting Melty at the castle, so she isn’t in the village.
I’ll have to build a room for Raph-chan soon too.
“Fohl-niichan really is cool. Please transform again!” (Kiel)
“Perhaps another time.” (Fohl)
“Eh? Even when it’s so cool?” (Kiel)
“Please just be quiet for a second!” (Fohl)
Kiel sure is hyper… Seeing her obliviously tease Fohl out of good will makes for a foolish back and forth.
Could it be that these two are surprisingly fitting for one another?
“You have the right to be happy. It’s because Trash thought that as well that he proposed a marriage with Melty. You just have to show him there’s someone you like to be with.” (Naofumi)
I’m stooping to fooling the man.
“Show him?” (Fohl)
“Otherwise, he’ll meddle with your life a bit. It’s probably for that reason that he’s going out of his way for both of us…” (Naofumi)
Fohl’s face goes pale.
Is he no good at dealing with Trash?
Yeah, well they’re likeminded people, so they repel one another. Or perhaps when someone approaches him so affectionately, he finds it scary.
It’s like your aunt bringing a photo of a girl she wants to introduce to you. That sort of fear.
And wait, it may be my fault, but the male slaves in my village seem to be under the impression that marriage is the graveyard of life.
… Ah, maybe it’s because I spoke of my experience with Witch with much zeal.
Be careful of women. You can’t put confidence in those close to you, lest the life you know comes to an end.
Even if they’re nobles, if they marry, they become slaves to their wives… I taught them quite a bit.
Since this is another world, I guessed that it was centered on men.
Is what I thought, but Melromark is matriarchal.
But I do feel that there are a lot more males among the nobles. In my village, we rarely come across those of such high status.
I think the most exposure we’ve had was some idle banter with them while peddling… but I made sure to teach them that other people are existences to make use of.
… Isn’t this kinda bad?
Yeah. I’ll need to provide some re-education.
Well, I’ll just leave it to Kiel, Raphtalia, and Sadina.
“What’s wrong, my good Niichans?” (Kiel)
Fohl accidentally drops the dog he was carrying.
He doesn’t have to be that scared.
“A-Atlas isn’t like that. She can’t be like this! She wasn’t like this! The Atlas I knew used whatever she could and never wasted anything!” (Fohl)
“… No, she kinda did.” (Naofumi)
Onii-sama, please don’t get so close to me, she would often say.
Even though we both bought her medicine, she fawned over me so much, while she gave Fohl harsh treatment.
Ah, did he subconsciously look over that side of her and develop a fear of women as a result?
“I pray that you’ll start a happy family.” (Naofumi)
“Naofumi-sama, please decide whether you’re supporting him or striking fear into his heart.” (Raphtalia)
And like always, Raphtalia offers a retort.