His consciousness began to surface slowly after submerging for so long. He then slowly opened his eyes from that comfortable slumber.
” …….. An unknown ceiling.. ”
Yes, the uncle who just spitted out this phrase just a moment ago was no other than the one and only Caralsdoni. He then remembered he flew out of the water and began to look around restlessly, putting his guard up.
As his brain started waking up, last night’s memories started flowing back. It seemed like he had managed to go through last night without any accident.
This room was the room the Bear guy had carried him in. Although it was not confirmed to be safe yet, he felt like it was okay to relax. Relieved, Caralsdoni stroked his chest to calm himself down.
Even so, to not have woken up before then proved the nerves of steel he had. And when he was feeling half shocked and half amazed at what he had done, the door opened with a clank.
And caused Caralsdoni to doubt his eyes.
” I am so very sorry! ”
――――――――A bear was doing a dogeza. [TN: Prostrate on the ground.]
” Wha, wha, wha, what?? ”
In the end, Caralsdoni fell into a state of confusion as he darted his eyes about.
” Really, I am hopeless. I tend to ignore the surroundings if I get too engrossed in something. ”
” Ah….Eh.. ”
Bear guy and Caralsdoni were sitting opposite each other at the dining table. The room made out of wood was kept simple, which in turn gave out a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
And in that room, as opposed to the embarrassed bear guy who was scratching his head, Caralsdoni had a troubled smile on his face.
What was going on?
He was completely lost. For now, he understood that Bear guy had no intention to harm him and instead was apologizing for something. Caralsdoni had been tilting his head in confusion for a while now.
” I am really so sorry. To have brought you here without any explanation whatsoever… you must have been very confused. ”
Bear guy said, regret dripping from his slowly drawn out words. Now Caralsdoni got it. It seemed like Bear guy finally realized what he had done.
” It’s all right. It seemed like I was saved as well. ”
He had to give his thanks first. Although he had many questions, it was manners to give thanks to the man who saved his life.
As Caralsdoni gave his thanks, he too, urged for answers.
” I had a shock when I saw you drifting down the river. As you stopped breathing, I gave your CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation. ”
When he revealed a confused face, Bear guy showed a proud look as he explained.
” I was taught by someone I know. The way to help someone resume breathing when they stop. ”
” I see. ”
Caralsdoni nodded. Bear guy nodded in satisfaction as well before glancing at Caralsdoni.
” ……But why are you washed away in the river? ”
Bear guy had a curious expression that masked the worry that fleeted across his face now and then. Caralsdoni felt a lump in his throat.
The reason was that he fell and knocked his head was so embarrassing that he dared not to say it. Looking at the complicated face Bear guy was making in front of Caralsdoni, he must have thought Caralsdoni was involved in some incident or something.
Caralsdoni swallowed his sigh and started thinking. He knew the longer he stayed silent, the higher the expectation was. He was in deep conflict with himself. No, it was just that he was really embarrassed.
Steeling himself, he opened his mouth.
Bear guy was his savior. Let’s swallow his pride and spit everything out. Besides, this turn of event seemed to be convenient for him. There was no loss in telling the truth.
……..Apart from the burn of embarrassment.
” …….Actually, I fell and bumped my head when I was swimming in the river…. ”
Saying that, he felt Bear guy’s gaze. A pitying gaze. It’s no good, he felt like running away. He felt like running the hell away. After all the misfortune and despair, he wanted to cry.
Panicking, he started to explain.
” No, actually, my name’s Caralsdoni. I own a trading company. ”
” …..Perhaps.. in Elzmu? ”
Caralsdoni was surprised. The man in front of him had a well-built body that had scars like a warrior here and there. As he was wondering why, he realized it.
This place was close to the mercantile nation (Dyuvu).
If it was a mercantile nation, even merchants would be muscular. Caralsdoni felt admiration at that, totally missing the point at the same time. Plus, he was glad that he was known even in such a far-away place that his voice raised.
” Oh, you have heard of me? I am honored!! So you are a merchant too? ”
” Ahh, I am just starting out as one. ”
They shared a moment of laughter.
Ah, let’s get back, let’s get back.
Caralsdoni then continued explaining about his embarrassing situation.
” …..And I led my caravan through the [Demon Forest] a few days ago. We went through it peacefully but as we relaxed, it kinda happened… ”
Caralsdoni gave a vague explanation and a question mark floated above Bear guy’s head. There’s no wonder. Even Caralsdoni himself had no idea what happened.
” I think something happened but my memories are very fuzzy.. Even I myself don’t know what’s what…. ”
In the end, it was as he hadn’t explained anything at all. Caralsdoni finally allowed himself a sigh. And there, the Bear guy in front of him seemed to have realized something. With a bitter face, he murmured.
” ……It might be better to not know anything. ”
” Eh? ”
This time, it was Caralsdoni who had a question mark above his head.
” I had an idea about what happened but it is dangerous to talk about it so…. Sorry. ”
Caralsdoni was shocked at the sudden apology as well as the sadness in his voice. Then, before he could even react, Bear guy lifted his head up with a snap. Different from his previous sad expression, he looked happy.
” But I think I can help. ”
The clear blue sky. The floating clouds.
The beautiful green grass against the contrast brown color of the earth. The bright rays of sunlight.
Ahh, the world was such a beautiful place. Why had he forgotten about it till now?
In the swaying carriage, Caralsdoni leaned out.
” Full speed ahead! ”
Buhual cried and whipped both of the horses in front of him. At the sudden acceleration, Caralsdoni, who was riding at the back, along with the luggage, fell and hit his butt hard.
Somehow he could hear laughter but even so, he had a bright smile on his face. Yes! The reason for that was because he was about to meet with his beloved Maria!
He felt like shouting out his joy but as that would disturb the peace of other passengers, he managed to surpass it down.
Oh god! Oh wonderful god!
How amazing. It was the 2nd time in his entire life that Caralsdoni gave his thanks to god. By the way, the 1st time was the moment Maria was born.
Bear guy, who said he could help, introduced himself. His name seemed to be Buhual. He hadn’t heard of that name but kept silent. As he was led over to the carriage, he saw someone loading his stuff onto it. It was he, Bibinyaru, who was sitting beside Caralsdoni and also the one who laughed.
A bear and cat beastmen. And the luggage they brought along was spices.
With that he came to realize it.
These 2 were the merchants whose products were a big hit in the country. The product, with the use of spices, were, as you guess, food.
The noodle that was mixed well with sauce [Yakisoba], the round dango filled with Ajipo meat [Takoyaki], the noodle dish with its rich ogre broth [Tonkotsu Ramen] and many more. It was so popular that whenever the food cart appeared, White Knights would be needed to maintain the long snake queues.
It was delicious beyond imagination and not long after, it was being termed as [Grade B Gourmet Food]. By the way, Caralsdoni was a fan. He ate every one of them. And as if that surprise was not enough, the 2 of them were to set out for Elzmu on that very day too.
What a coincidence.
That was why Caralsdoni gave god his thanks. He was saved in ways more than one.
But he did not consider that he is going to be shocked again.
To reach Elzmu, one would have to cross the [Demon Forest]. And even now, not one guard could be seen accompanying them. When he asked, the answer given was that they had no use for them as both of them was enough.
No way. It can’t be.
Wow, merchants from the south are scary. He felt that deeply as he stared at Buhual’s back.
Caralsdoni thought Buhual was acting as the guard but it looked like Bibinyaru was as strong.
He had doubts about that slender body being able to do anything, but as he saw how Bibinyaru ‘played’ with the beasts in the speed that’s so fast he could not follow, his mouth just couldn’t close.
The way there went by peacefully and as the road they were traveling on slowly turned to stone paving, Caralsdoni saw the lovely familiar scenery unfolding in front of him.
” …..I am back!! ”
Once the carriage stopped for inspection, Caralsdoni leaped out and started running towards the nostalgic city gates……
…..and was caught.
” ……Eh? ”
And he left the stunned Buhual and Bibinyaru behind him.