I felt some sort of presence. Multiples of such signs outside this building.
While erasing my presence, I took a look outside using a small window.
(Around a dozen or so…)
Before I knew it, I was surrounded inside the house by villagers.
“Hey, I know you are hiding. Come out.”
I talked to the other party from inside the house.
It was eerie, but if the opponent didn’t attack me, I couldn’t afford to be the first to strike. Maybe there were some circumstances.
While holding my self-defense knife, I watched at the other party’s actions.
“I’m sorry… we didn’t mean to surprise you…”
Along with those words from their leader, several figures appear from the surroundings. There were quite a few of them, but none of them were armed.
(Kids? …Children from the village?)
What had me surrounded were children from the village.
Their ages seemed to span from kindergarten children, up to upper elementary school students. They were about half and half boys and girls; their age was just a speculation of course since they looked like foreigners.
(Looking at them closely, they are pretty thin. Maybe on the verge of malnutrition.)
I frowned, looking at the condition of the approaching children.
Their arms and legs sticking out from their colorful clothes were surprisingly slim. Their skin also looked dry, although it was supposed to be smooth due to their growth period. It was possible they haven’t been able to eat properly because of the food shortage.
(But… at least their eyes are not dead.)
Strangely enough, every child had a shine in their eyes. Those eyes stared at my figure as I walked out.
“What do you want? ”
While wary of the surroundings, I asked the boy who appeared to be the leader. At least he seems to give off that kind of atmosphere.
“I heard it from Liscia-neechan… that an amazing person who defeated several Big Rabbits had come! ”
“Yeah, and that he was awesome with the dagger! ”
“She also said he was a traveler from a foreign country! ”
Following the first boy, all the other children started opening their mouths. Seems they have heard about me from that girl Liscia.
About a masterful swordsman who saved her from danger while she was in the forest. About a strange-looking wandering warrior wearing exotic clothes.
“Unfortunately, I’m neither swordsman nor warrior…”
“Tell us, from which country did you came from!? ”
“The rumor says you came from the west, beyond the Great Mountains! ”
“Where are you traveling now!? ”
The children asked more and more questions without even waiting for me to answer them. Without any vigilance at all, they approached me, throwing one question after the other.
All while their sparkling eyes stared straight at me. This wasn’t an act; they were really purely interested.
(Those eyes… I wonder if they are that hungry for entertainment…?)
They wanted to listen.
Things that weren’t heard in this remote village, events and stories of foreign lands. The adventures of a traveling brave warrior.
The purity in these children’s eyes reminded me of my travels in my original world. They were similar to the children living in isolated villages in South America and the Eurasian continent.
“Hey, everyone, calm down! You’re going to inconvenience this person! Don’t forget the reason why we came here in the first place! ”
“Oh, you’re right! ”
“Hey, everyone got it?”
As if remembering thanks to the leader-like boy words, the children calmed down.
Some of the children put their hands inside their pockets and took something out. The boy gathered it and then, coming closer, he held it to me.
“We wanted to give you this to you, that’s the reason we came…”
In the boy’s hands were some tree nuts presented to me.
They were a variety I had not seen yet, but they closely resembled walnuts. From the shape of them, I could tell they were fruits meant as food.
“It is a custom in this village, to give gifts to the travelers that come. It’s a sign of welcome! ”
Urd was a remote village in the mountainous region, so there were few people who visited here.
Therefore, they sincerely welcomed all the travelers that had visited thus far. And that welcome was by gifting something precious to them. This is what the kids explained to me.
“But isn’t this your precious food? ”
As a matter of fact, I was not very good at dealing with children. That question was the best I could do.
“Yeah… the younger ones haven’t really eaten these past days…”
From his response, I could tell the food shortage was more serious than I had expected.
For efficiency’s sake, the limited food was apparently given to those who could work. They prioritized the elderly people who could still work, and the children with larger bodies.
“If you give this to me, your food will be reduced.”
“Yup, I know. But this is a sign of welcome… and more than anything, we really want to get along!”
To my question, the boy answered some unexpected words. I don’t really know what he meant, so I ended up repeating those words.
“With you…… We want to get along with someone strong and bold like you, like the hero-king that comes out in the 『Founding Chronicles of Urd』! ”
“Ahh, that’s sly. I also want to be friends with him! ”
“Me too! ”
The children started to raise they hands and they spoke. It was getting more and more crowded around me.
This was quite a strange sight that I’ve had not experienced before. All these children were supposed to be suffering from hunger.
(But they are shining… dazzling enough to even look straight at them…)
Even in this hopeless situation they were in, everyone’s eyes were shining. That is, theirs was a lively expression that believed there was still hope.
“Well… I guess it’s fine. Let me tell you a story about a trip in my hometown.”
I decided to speak quietly, soothing the crowd of children. About the four seasons, and the lush greenery that was my hometown in the countryside of Japan.