Blacksmith Volume 1 Chapter 19
My thoughts kept going back to that meeting this morning .
Holding a bow larger than the norm, and carrying a pair of small game on my back, it was supposed to be a regular trip to the mountains .
You see, every spring in the mountains nearby the village, many bears appear after coming out of hibernation .
Had they come out yet? I didn’t know, I hadn’t seen any yet .
Selling the materials from bears nets a good profit .
It’s fun hunting, and I get gold out of it too, so it’s the perfect pastime for me .
From the moment I woke up this morning, my body was aflame with energy .
Today was going to be a good day, I could feel it .
Funny enough, almost immediately after I entered the mountainous area, I found a bear bigger than any I had ever seen .
It doesn’t seem to have noticed me yet .
More precisely it couldn’t have noticed me, it was busy glowering at some girl carrying a bunch of mountain-plants .
Why would you come to the mountains now of all times?! What a stupid girl .
She didn’t even have any weapons on her .
The bear fixed the girl’s figure in its gaze, and swooped down on her with the full momentum of its size .
I drew my bow .
This is a mighty bow, so mighty in fact, that it took me two years of training before I was able to use it properly .
In the village, there is nobody strong enough to use this bow other than me .
…or so I say, but right now my arm was screaming in protest to the bow’s tension .
The arrow I took out was drawn to the bow’s limit .
Along with the fact that the arrows are considerably heavier than normal ones, this would definitely be a deadly shot .
Focusing on the moment that the bear moved, I released the arrow .
Slicing through the air, the arrow let out a sharp ring as the beast was struck .
Right in-between the eyes .
It’s a simple thing if you focus enough .
That’s good, we’ll get to have some good bear this year .
As a bonus, I even got to save a damsel in distress .
‘Thank you for saving my life, as thanks take whatever you want’ . ‘Then don’t mind me as I help myself!’ Something like that maybe? Well, I’m fine with anything though .
“Hey girly! You okay?!”
“Yeah, you saved me there, thanks . ”
After approaching and getting a good look at her, it actually looks like she’s my age .
…and she’s really cute .
I was so focused on taking down the bear that I didn’t notice .
If I had known she was this cute I would’ve been a bit more friendly when I called out to her .
“What are you doing in the mountains during this season? Didn’t your father ever teach you common sense?”
“…no, umm… my father’s not here anymore . ”
“Ugh . ”
I didn’t mean to bring up a touchy subject like that, hopefully she hasn’t started grown unpleasant feelings towards me .
Argh whatever! A cute girl is trying to thank me so why am I driving her away?!
“Well around this time, all the bears sleeping in the mountains wake up from hibernation, haven’t you heard?”
“Unfortunately no, I just arrived in this area recently . ”
So that’s how it is .
“Does that mean, you’re one of Elenoire Academy’s new students?”
“Yeah, my name is Iris Parala . ”
Well what do you know? Turns out she’s one of the young mistresses going to that noble school .
It’s a good thing I saved her when I did .
Though now that I’ve helped her, what’s she gonna do to return the favour?
Around five years ago I helped another Elenoire student out of a pinch, and they ended up giving me five gold .
This girl’s not only cute, but she’s rich and I just saved her life . I’ll definitely get something at least worth ten gold this time .
“Love, for a saving a beauty like you, I’ll only charge you ten gold coins . ”
“Eh?! There’s no way I can pay off that exorbitant amount of money!”
“Really? Well, if you can’t pay cash, I’m fine with taking something of equal value . Don’t you have any jewelry on you? Hurry up and take it out . ”
“Sorry, I’m not wearing any jewels like that . ”
“It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s gold I don’t care . ”
Her face scrunched up in confusion towards my statement, and instead of gold, she offered me some of the wild plants she had picked .
“…don’t you have like a gold medal or something?”
“The only thing I have are these edible wild plants . ”
Taking another look at the girl, her dress wasn’t any different from us commoner folk, there wasn’t a single expensive thing on her .
She even looked a bit skinny .
“Just what are you?”
“My name is Iris Parala . ”
“You already told me that . ”
“Then what am I supposed to tell you? All I have are these wild plants I’ve picked, so what else can I give?”
“Nonono, I mean, why are you picking wild plants in the first place? Noble kids don’t eat stuff like that . ”
“I never said I part of the aristocracy, I missed eating wild plants like I did back home, so I came to pick some . ”
“But you just said that you’re one of Elenoire Academy’s students . ”
“You can enroll there even if you’re a commoner you know?”
I didn’t know that .
The moment she said she was actually a commoner, for some reason the unpleasant feeling I had disappeared .
I took another look at her face .
Yup, it’s still really cute .
“A commoner at a school for nobles… That must be tough . ”
“Really? I don’t think it’s that bad though?”
“Are you sure? I can feel my nausea coming up just by thinking about it . ”
“Hmm… I guess everyone has there own opinions, no?”
As our conversation started to come to an end, my stomach started rumbling .
That reminds me, I still had the two birds I shot down this morning while riding my horse .
It’ll be ready to eat if I just grill it .
“I’m going to cook some game I caught earlier, you want one?”
I heard that in that noble school, they’re given lavish meals to eat every day .
We get to eat our fair share ourselves, but I don’t think they serve wild birds there .
I’ve never heard of them eating something like that .
“N-no thank you…”
Told you so .
I tried to leave the way I came, but then I saw it .
…That person’s face, its the face of someone who wants to eat messily!
That’s what I could tell from her face, but I could also tell that she had experienced the taste of grilled wild birds before!
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure . ”
“The birds I caught this time have a good amount of fat on them you know?”
She didn’t reply, but I definitely heard her gulp!
“Despite what you say, you definitely have the face of someone who wants to eat some . ”
“Who are you talking about?! Me?!”
“Oh yeah? Well I don’t mind, I can finish one bird no problem, finishing two grilled birds instead won’t be that big a deal . ”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, if you were nobility I would’ve never offered, but since you aren’t along with the fact that you’re a bit skinny, I think I’ll let you have some . Come on, I’ll start the fire . ”
“…okay . ”
With a hearty fire created by the two of us, I grilled the birds .
A fragrant smell started drafting about .
My only regret is that I didn’t have any salt or anything on me, but that couldn’t be helped .
“The school meals are a bit too fancy for my tastes, I just can’t get used to them . ”
“That’s a problem of luxury I guess . ”
“Hehe, yeah . At first, I was thrilled that I could eat food like that! Though eventually I started missing the frugal meals of back home . ”
“Like wild plants?”
“Yeah, foods that I used to eat with my dad and the rest of my family . Plants like these… and small wild birds . ”
Ugh, we should probably avoid topics that relate to her dad .
“Come to think of it, I still haven’t heard your name yet . ”
“Abel . I don’t have a family name, no parents either, I was picked up by the people in my village when I was young . ”
“That’s a nice name, Abel . ”
Iris made a somewhat sorry face .
I don’t want her to make a sad face like that .
Once the birds finished cooking, I passed the first one to her .
We both bit into our birds at the same time .
Just as I expected, delicious!
Iris clenched her fist and raised it up .
“I can’t stop my mouth . ”
“Yeah, it’s a taste you’ll never forget . ”
Before we knew it, the birds were gone .
“What about the bear?”
Iris looked towards the fallen bear behind me .
“Later I’ll carry it to my village and share it with everyone . I can’t just keep it to myself . ”
“Wow, you must be really strong . ”
“Right? I’m a free man that can’t be reined in . That’s who I am . ”
“Yeah, I think that’s nice . ”
Oh, I was confused for a bit but I got praised .
I rarely get to talk with beauties like this so it can’t be helped .
“Hey Iris, are you happy attending a school built for those nobles?”
“Yeah, I have to work hard and think about my future though . ”
“That’s what I mean, I can’t imagine happy future from a place like that . ”
“That’s not true . ”
She immediately denied it as if I had lied .
It’s a school built for the aristocracy after all, how could commoners like us commute to a place like that?
“You’re probably one commoner surrounded by the ‘noble’ majority . You’re probably going to become the subject of discrimination you know?”
“What, did I say something wrong?”
If you don’t want to speak, I won’t force you, but I think it would be better to talk than to not .
I want to know if there’s anything wrong .
“There was a girl that lived next to me in the dormitory, and at first we got along… but after she found out that I was a commoner, she decided to cut all ties with me . Everyone else started avoiding me too soon after . ”
Iris’s words left a clogging feeling in me .
I wished that she wouldn’t have anything to say to me, but I also think it’s good that she got that off her chest .
You really can’t put a lot of faith in nobles .
Damn, for some reason I’m feeling angry .
“Shouldn’t you just resign and leave such a place?”
“I can’t afford to do so . I have a family waiting at home, and they’re placing their hopes on me making it through there . ”
I myself have never tasted discrimination .
Iris probably hadn’t until recently as well .
It must’ve substantially hurt her when it all happened .
Towards the aristocracy I can only feel more and more hate .
“Though you know, not everyone there is like that . ”
“What do you mean?”
“There are also strange people there, and I don’t mean they’re bad people when I say they’re strange . ”
“There are also people who call me a friend, though that doesn’t really change my situation much . ”
“…what kind of people are they?”
“He’s the heir to the Helan territory nearby, the one to become its next lord . The atmosphere he gives off is different from the rest of the academy students . ”
“Don’t you think he might have some ulterior motives?”
Iris is a beautiful girl .
There would probably be many a man that would approach her with bad things in mind .
“There might be people like that, but I don’t think Kururi is one of them . The people who give off an air similar to Kururi seem to just naturally gather around him, it’s a little funny how he can act that way yet still be a noble . ”
“Was that a compliment?”
“Of course it was!”
Iris was a bit sad at the beginning, but it looks like things will be fine for now .
But strange nobles huh…
“Come to think of it, the whole village was in a uproar not too long ago about some strange noble who visited . He was a giant of man, who bought a whole sheep and then just left . ”
“Oh that’s probably Vaine! Kururi wasn’t with him?”
“No, there was only one person there . ”
“I was told that the two of them happily ate a sheep together, I guess it was a sign of friendship or something . ”
“If you want to eat sheep, come to my village sometime, we can eat one whenever you want . ”
“Sorry, but if I come, I’d prefer to eat wild birds then instead . ”
“Okay, they’re my favorite too, I’ll teach you how to cook them so they’re good as well . ”
“Yeah . ”
As my spare, I lent Iris the small bow I had brought with me .
Initially I had a hard time pulling the bowstring, but my progress since then has been amazing .
“What an amazing talent . Aren’t you a genius?”
In response to her praise, I laughed brightly .
“That also looks like a good bow . ”
“No, this is a bad one . ”
“Well if you know the good from the bad, can you show me how to make one?”
“Sure, in that case…”
Whittling down a branch of wood with a knife, it slowly changed into the form of a bow .
I didn’t just teach Iris the procedure in making one, so in the end my hand was really sore .
Humans are really talented beings .
Just the figure of them working hard naturally attracts others .
If I don’t take care my heart is going to be stolen .
By evening, we were able to create a fine bow .
Now all it needs is the string .
I’ll finish it when I return to the village .
We made a promise to meet again so I can give it to her .
She looked really happy when I said that .
“Well then, I need to return soon . ”
“You’ll be alright going home alone?”
“Yup, don’t worry . ”
With her wild plants in hand, she started walking down the path .
Since the morning when I woke up, I knew it was going to be a good day .
Feeling just a little bit lonely, I called out to Iris’s back .
“Iris!! Whenever you get sick of the academy, come visit!!”
“Yeah! I’ll come!!”
Iris’ smile was burned into my head at that moment .
… and the sunset behind her just made it even more beautiful .