Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The Hidden Village」Part 3
After a few minutes, the two women returned to inform us that dinner was ready.
When we arrived at the rear hall on the first floor, we were greeted by an elevated platform with some kind of hearth set in its center.
A huge steaming pot hung from the ceiling right above the hearth and the sound of simmering food could be heard coming from it.
“Please sit anywhere you like, Arc-dono. When Chiome told me you were from the same country as the first head, I never would have imagined that Arc-dono was a member of the elf tribe.”
Hanzo called out to me as he sat down in a cross-legged manner on the opposing side of the hearth and stroked his gray beard.
His comment was expected since I had taken off my helmet and was now revealing the dark-skinned, elven face that drinking the spring water gave me.
“There is a slight problem with my memory. Something that I’ve just recently learned. It’s uncertain if the lord Hanzo you speak of and me actually share a place of origin.”
I sat down on in a similar crossed-legged manner on the opposite to Hanzo and gave him an ambiguous reply while picking up Ponta by the scruff of her neck.
Unfamiliar with the sitting posture, Ariane had to practice it a few times before she was able to take a seat beside me.
Hanzo watched Ariane’s stumbling with a heartwarming smile on his face before he suddenly turned to me and began to speak.
“Regarding the present matter, I’ve heard that Arc-dono is a mercenary. As long as it is a reasonable price, what is it that you would like to request as your reward, Arc-dono?”
Being reminded that we were here because I agreed to accept Chiome’s request, I thought about a suitable reward.
Since I had only been thinking about helping Chiome at the time, I hadn’t really put much thought into a reward and I couldn’t think of anything at the moment.
“We can hardly call our village a rich one. Even though Arc-dono is a handsome one, would you like to have your pick of the beauties the village has to offer? Muhoho.
Hanzo raised one of his long eyebrows and started laughing like a dirty old man.
While it was a tempting offer, the hard stare I felt pointed in my direction prevented me from accepting it even as a joke.
So I decided to go with what I originally had wanted to ask for.
“Hanzo-dono, that won’t be necessary. In fact, I believe you already learned that we found the former residence of your clan’s founder. Due to certain circumstances, I would like to acquire it. How about making it the reward of for this task?”
I already had the Dragon King’s permission to live in the area anyway.
Hanzo was taken aback when he heard my proposal and crossed his arms, nodding before he replied.
“After the founder passed away, Hanzo the 3rd decided to abandon the area completely, so even members of the clan have forgotten about it. Since Chiome has already retrieved the treasure that had been resting there, it’s not necessary for Arc-dono to get our permission to live there. The area we intend to move to is quite a distance away from the residence…… Is there nothing else that you want Arc-dono?”
I crossed my arm and thought about what Hanzo had asked of me.
Ponta looked up at me with eyes questioning me for the promised dinner, and seem to be thinking as hard as I was.
Something I needed apart from the residence near the hot spring……
“I’m grateful for you handing over the residence to me, but considering how deteriorated it has become from lack of use, how about your clan repairing it for me? Since this village seems to house skillful carpenters, it shouldn’t take much difficulty to gather some, right?”
The residence’s roof had already collapsed and the floor had cracks in it, it would take various repairs before I could live there.
Even if I bought the necessary material with the money I had, I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to repair the place.
The best option would be to utilize this village’s carpenters.
When I conveyed this to Hanzo he quietly stroked his beard and nodded.
“If it’s something that simple, we’re more than willing to help you, but is that really all you desire? There are busty girls as well, muhoho.”
For a moment, Hanzo’s eyes shifted to Ariane next to me as he spoke and once again laughed like a lecherous old man.
Perhaps he had been staring at Ariane’s chest when she had been struggling before.
Was this grandpa really the head of the Blade Heart Clan……? I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was a substitute.
Even though the conversation had been derailed a bit, I was able to get the help I needed.
At the same time, that strange feeling of coercion I felt coming from my side increased. Wasn’t I supposed to be immune to negative emotions with this body, or was it the other one?
While I thought it over, Ponta, with no regard to the situation, began jumping up and down on my knee demanding dinner.
……You’re just a peaceful one, aren’t you.
Stroking Ponta’s head helped calm me down and allowed me to move the conversation along.
“No, the repairs should be fine.”
“I see. I will dispatch a few skillful carpenters then. Chiome.”
Hanzo nodded once to signify his agreement to my request, before calling out to Chiome.
The cat-eared ninja girl silently bowed her head at the hall’s entrance before she entered.
As I looked over my shoulder to watch her, I noticed other silhouettes were accompanying hers.
One of the massive men that was accompanying Chiome was about two meters and thirty centimeters tall.
The man with hair like a mackerel tabby was named Goemon, one of the six strongest ninjas.
Though he had been shirtless back then, he was currently wearing tight fitting ninja clothes like Chiome, and he too nodded silently before entering.
Then someone even taller than Goemon entered the room.
The man was two meters and seventy centimeters tall…… he had to bend down to avoid hitting the ceiling as he walked into the hall.
The man’s biceps were thicker than an average person’s thighs and his rounded ears were in stark contrast to his deeply wrinkled face.
A small middle-aged man followed behind the giant.
Unlike the two before him, the man was only about a hundred and sixty centimeters tall. However, a single glance at him was enough to clue people in that he was not to be messed with.
Many scars lined the bits of his forearms that peaked out from his rolled-up sleeves and while he had long rabbit ears, one of them had been torn in half.
When he caught sight of me, a brutal smile appeared on the man’s face.
The four of them took a seat on both of Hanzo’s sides and offered a slight bow to Ariane and me.
Hanzo choose that moment to clear his throat and introduced our new guests.
“Let’s move own to the migration. Since you’re already acquainted with Chiome and Goemon, there’s need to introduce them. As for the remaining two, the larger man is the acting head of the village and a member of the bear tribe, Gouro.”
At Hanzo’s prompting, the large bear slammed his fists into the ground as he lowered his head to the floorboards.
“I’m Gouro of the bear tribe and elected chief of the village. No words can express my gratitude for you accepting this request. I am forever indebted to you”
Gouro introduced himself in with a slightly monotonous voice before he thanked me for my help.
“Huh? I thought that Hanzo-dono was the leader of the village, was I wrong?”
When I heard that Gouro was the chief of the village, I turned towards Hanzo with a questioning gaze.
“While the Blade Heart Clan certainly helped building this village, there are several like it scattered throughout the continent. We’re based here for now, but that is simply a temporary setup.”
After Hanzo explained his clan’s situation, I turned my eyes on the small man that sat beside Gouro.
The rather brutish rabbit-eared man lowered his head to me when our eyes met.
“I am Pitta of the rabbit tribe. I’m the village’s head of security. I’m here on behalf of the advance team for the upcoming migration. I’ll be in your care, Arc-dono.”
The man who introduced himself as Pitta spoke in a rather gruff tone and gave me a vicious smile…… Ponta shrunk back when she saw that.
She was fine with me and my skeletal body, but the yakuza-like Pitta was too much for her. I guess spirit beasts didn’t care for beast men unconditionally.
When he saw Ponta’s reaction, Pitta’s eyebrows fell and he allowed his head to droop before he retreated from the hearth.
It must have really affected him……
Maybe tough looking rabbit uncles weren’t in high demand.
While I had that thought, I tried to move the conversation to the main subject.
“Pitta-dono mentioned something about an advance party?”
“Yes, according to Chime’s report the Dragon King has given us his blessing to occupy a particular section of land, but it’s still necessary to survey the area. We can take advantage of a nearby lake…… after the land is surveyed we’ll rely on Arc-dono’s power to send the first settlers to conduct the minimal land cultivation, then the remaining people.”
Hanzo stroked his beard as he explained the relocation plans.
Judging from the what I saw when we climbed up the mountain with the hot spring, the lake they mentioned must have been a good distance away.
If I memorized the location around the lake, I should be able to transfer the settlers there next time.
Since the area would lack a defensive wall like the one this village had, the advance group might need to stay overnight to establish a defensive perimeter.
“I assume that the advance party will need a few days to prepare for the settlers. How will the relocation of the rest of the village be handled?”
There wasn’t much I needed to actually to fulfill this request, but it was still necessary for me to had an idea of the schedule.
Hanzo raised an eyebrow as if he noticed something and looked directly at me.
“It’ll be a month or two at minimum before the main relocation. It would be for the best if half of the villagers are relocated then.”
So the village wasn’t being abandoned, they were just relocating their excess numbers.
“I was under the notion that this village was being abandoned.”
At my mutter, Hanzo nodded in confirmation.
“This village was set up as a refuge for my people. My brethren flee to mountainous regions should they manage to escape human nations because of the difficulty for humans to follow. I heard that the only reason the residence you attend to live in was abandoned was because the third head was incapable of mastering spatial-temporal ninjutsu.”
The area wasn’t easily accessible, to say the least. Without the use of spatial-temporal ninjutsu or transfer magic, one would need to traverse a monster-filled forest on foot.
The robust men in front of me would be okay making the journey, but there was a large number of women and children to consider. If there was no other option but relocation, they would need to be prepared for a large number of sacrifices.
However, why was such a destination chosen in the first place……
“Why are you returning to a land that’s already been abandoned?”
Hanzo’s eye reflected understanding as he slowly shook his head.
“During the founder’s time, there were still many of my people’s villages scattered about. Those that were caught by humans were forced to bring them to those villages. As the human population increased my people were driven into the mountains. Now there is no place where human influence doesn’t reach, and my people are on the decline. It’s rare for anyone to even travel between the hidden villages now.”
Only the sound of the hearth’s crackling firewood and the simmering pot could be heard as everyone became silent.
If there was little flow between the villages, then a situation where everyone was related to everyone else would eventually come up.
The basin was located between mountains that humans had no access to, and the plains could be expanded if certain sections of the forest were cleared out.
If a new village could be built, then more people from other hidden villages can be moved there, thus solving the population problem…… probably.
Ariane had said that the People of the Mountain and Plains had built an impressive country on the Southern continent. However, humans held the power on the Northern continent, which made it difficult for the people here.
“I understand. Would the advance party be ready to set out tomorrow?”
“We’ll be in your care. Huh!?”
Hanzo bowed his head to me again but his expression became stiff when he looked up.
The talk had proceeded smoothly till now, but at the sudden change of atmosphere I took a look around.
Hanzo wasn’t the only one with a strained expression as both Chiome and Goemon stared at me in shock.
I could only see a slight change in Goemon’s expression but a remark from Ariane clued me in as to what had happened.
“Arc!? Your face turned back!?”
When I touched my own face I realized why everyone was looking at me strangely.
The effect time for the hot spring water was shorter than it should have been. Maybe the effect of the spring water started to diminish after a parting from its source.
If the freshness of the water had to be considered, then my use of it was more inflexible than I thought.
The people that had been sitting around the hearth shouted in utter confusion as they started to rise.
This conversation is becoming familiar…… was the thought crossing my mind as I began explaining my situation to everyone.