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Equipped with a dagger at the back of her waist, Kanna stood beside Mon. [It’s today, right?]
[Yeah,] Mon replied. His eyes roamed the vicinity, wary of unwelcomed beasts. [It will be the first time we will see a human child. And the first time Randolf will bring someone else into the Tribe.]
[Randolf’s Granddaughter huh.] Kanna placed a finger on her lips and raised her sights. [I wonder how she looks like. Maybe she’s… a lot like Randolf? Tall? Silver-haired?]
[Might be.] Mon nodded. [Aside from his Guards, we have yet to see any other humans. It’s a bit interesting if I say so myself.]
[Right?] Kanna smiled. [It’ll be another new experience for us—for the Tribe.]
Kanna and Mon stayed underneath a tree’s shade. They waited for a few minutes before they heard a series of steps and continuous clinks of metal.
[They’re here,] Kanna muttered.
It did not take long before Randolf arrived while accompanied by knights. However, unlike the usual sight Kanna and Mon were used to seeing, Randolf was carrying a silver-haired girl on his chest. Nonetheless, Randolf approached with a smile on his face.
“Amelia.” Randolf tapped the girl’s shoulder, but a response was not returned. “Sound asleep.” Randolf smiled wryly. “Kanna, Mon, I apologize, but let’s be silent on the way.”
“No problem.” Kanna shifted her language, but her eyes were sucked towards the sleeping Amelia. So this is a human girl? She’s a lot smaller than I expected. Probably about a head smaller than me? And silver hair. She did take after Randolf in the end.
On the other hand, Mon nodded in silence.
Careful of not waking Amelia, Randolf turned around and nodded towards one of his accompanying knights.
After the Knights handed a leather sack to Mon and left, the silent journey towards the Tribe began.
“I’m sorry Kanna, Mon,” Randolf whispered. “I didn’t expect Amelia to burn herself out from excitement this morning. She ended up falling asleep along the way.”
Kanna waved her hand in dismissal. “No worries. Most children are like that anyway.”
“B-but Erina...” Amelia muttered in her sleep. “I’m tired...”
Kanna, Mon, and Randolf responded with a chuckle.
About a fourth of the way towards the Tribe, Amelia woke up. “Grandpa?” she muttered. “Where are we?”
“We’re in the forest, Amelia. We’re headed to the Tribe.” Randolf brought Amelia down.
“But where are the knights?” Amelia roamed her eyes. “And…!” As soon as her eyes met the figures of Kanna and Mon, she ran behind Randolf’s leg and peeked with a wary expression. Clutching on Randolf’s black trousers, she said, “W-who are they?”
Randolf kneeled and brought Amelia closer. “It’s the Tribesmen I was talking about. That man with longer ears is Mon. The other one is Kanna.”
“Hello.” Kanna waved her hand. “Don’t worry, we are Randolf’s friends.”
“Friends?” Amelia snuck closer while staring at Kanna. “Really?”
“Yes. We are Randolf’s friends. Right, Randolf?”
Randolf nodded. “Yes. Amelia, they are my friends. Soon, they’ll be your friends too. So there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Amelia took another round of glance towards Kanna and Mon before nodding. “Okay.”
The journey resumed. However, this time, Amelia was holding Randolf’s hand. At the very least, her wariness has yet to completely fade.
Is she like me? Amelia thought. She looked at Mon, and then at Kanna. Maybe their ears grow longer the older they get? In that case… she’s about the same age as me?
Halfway through, they stopped for a break.
“Amelia, we’ll be camping here for the night. Won’t you help me look for twigs?” Randolf asked.
“Sure!” Amelia answered. Regaining her usual vibe, and her wariness gone, she ran towards Kanna and grabbed her hand.
“Eh? What?” Kanna muttered in surprise. “Is something wrong?”
“Twigs. Won’t you come with me to gather twigs?” Amelia tilted her head.
Ahh… this girl is… Kanna was smitten by Amelia’s childish charm. “Er... Sure. So where do we start?”
Amelia had no idea of her charm. She simply acted with no motives in mind. Nonetheless, it was an expression everyone in Tercel was fond of—which made Amelia unconsciously think that her usual expressions were enough to make the people around her smile.
“There she goes.” Randolf laughed. “Amelia! Kanna! Be careful, okay?”
“Okay, Grandpa!” Amelia waved her hand vigorously, happy that she found a friend around her age. “Let’s go!”
[Seems like she’s fine with us now?] Mon said as Amelia and Kanna vanished into the forest.
Randolf exhaled and took a seat. “Probably.”
[You seem exhausted.] Mon sat beside Randolf.
“Don’t mind it.” Randolf smiled. “Anyway, how’s Garfin? Sylvar too?”
[They’re the same as always.] Mon chuckled. [Arguing.]
Randolf laughed. “Figured. Other than that, what do you think of my Granddaughter? She’s quite a unique child, isn’t she?”
[I cannot compare her. She’s the first human child I have met.]
“Your own impression is fine.”
[In that case, she’s—]
Mon and Randolf’s idle chatter continued.
On the other hand, “Hup. I think this is enough.” Amelia embraced a bundle of twigs. She did not mind her dirtied clothes. After all, Erina was nowhere in sight. “Kanna, are you done?”
“Ahehe. I think?” Kanna scratched her cheek. Underneath her left arm was another bundle of twigs. Should I tell her she gathered too much? And the twigs she gathered… they are leaning towards fresh than dry.
“Eh? Would that many be alright?”
“Yeah, the amount you gathered plus mine is more than enough.”
“I see.” Amelia crept a smile. Inside her mind, she thought she won against Kanna in the contest of gathering twigs. “Then let’s return?”
Kanna nodded. “Yeah, we should.”
Amelia and Kanna’s little journey began. They walked side by side while hearing out each other’s stories.
“Hup. Are there any other children in the Tribe like you?” Amelia asked.
“Eh?” Kanna blinked her eyes in confusion. “Children? Like me?”
“Yeah. Because, back in the palace, I barely knew any children around my age. Often times, I meet a lot of older people. So sometimes, it’s a bit lonely when Grandpa is not around. Ah! But I’m having fun with my big brother and little sister. There’s my little brother too, but I think he hates me. But I think playing with someone that’s not a part of my family is different.” Amelia then glanced towards Kanna with a bright smile. “Like this time.”
Kanna was struck frozen. As a result, “A-ah!” the bundle of the twigs started to fall from her arm. However, using her own experience, she managed to catch them all before hitting the ground. “Phew. Close call.”
“Ooooh!” Amelia’s eyes sparkled. “That’s amazing! How did you do that?!”
“Eh? Ah. Practice?” Kanna expressed a wry smile.
“Really?! Teach me when we have time! I don’t think there are many children around our age who could do that!”
Again, Kanna was struck for a moment. Wait, around our age? Does she think I’m a child like her? Eh? Then should I… break her hopes? The longer Kanna thought about it, the more the answer became clear. Nah, I don’t think I should. Let’s keep it this way.
“Yeah, I think so too,” Kanna replied. Her smile, it’s soothing…
Sometime later, Amelia and Kanna were able to return to the camp Randolf and Mon built. Both Mon and Randolf were surprised by the number of twigs Amelia brought. However, like Kanna, they did not mention anything other than giving her a compliment.
“Uwaah…!” Amelia stared intently at the chunk of beef at the end of her stick. “It looks so delicious!” she muttered with a trace of drool at the side of her lips.
“Patience, Amelia.” Randolf chuckled. “A little more and the meat would be good enough.”
Amelia nodded vigorously in response, but the movement of her throat was evident.
[Thanks Randolf.] Similarly, Mon thrust his stick into the fire. [This kind of meat is rare in the Tribe. Much less the salt you brought.]
“Gahaha! Don’t mention it! I just brought something that already existed into the Tribe! There’s no need give me credit for it!”
Amelia nodded. “Yeah, salt. We have lots!”
Kanna chuckled. “Sadly, we don’t have salt. So preserving meat is quite a task. Luckily, we have a water spirit’s help to do the preservation for us. But still, the difference between a salted meat and not is large.”
[Can’t agree more.] Mon expressed a nostalgic smile. [Oh the days sure have changed. And I’m glad that someone like you have found us.]
“The pleasure is for both sides. Laurel too is fortunate in meeting the Tribe.”
Soon, the curtain of the night fell. However, the flames of the campfire remained lighted.
“Then it went baam! Then paam! All the way to the port! But the barrel didn’t stop! It barreled towards the sea then it went splash!” Amelia retold what she saw back in the port in Aves. She was using her arms to draw an image of what happened to a barrel filled with rocks that accidentally fell from a carriage.
“Then? What did you do?” Kanna asked, entertaining Amelia’s exaggerated stories.
“After I ducked to the dodge the barrel, the knights surrounded me so I wasn’t able to do anything afterward.” Amelia looked at the stars with a hand grasping her chin. “So after that, I was forced back to the palace. They told it was unsafe in the port during that time, so I had no choice but to return.”
“I guess that’s an obvious result.” Though Kanna did not fully understand what it meant to be a princess in a human kingdom, she knew that Amelia was some sort of important personage.
“Yeah, even Erina, Ria, and Mira was worried back then. And oh, Erina, Ria, and Mira are my personal Maidservants. They help me and teach me stuff in the palace.”
“Maidservants?” Kanna knitted her brows.
“Un. Maidservants.” Amelia nodded. “They are dressed in a black dress with a white frilly apron-like dress on top. Oh, they also have a white headdress too. But sometimes, I get iffy with the headdress so I ask them to remove it sometimes.”
The stars twinkled and wolves howled. At that moment, Amelia was fast asleep while leaning on Kanna. They were joined by Randolf’s coat—just as Amelia requested.
“You seem to be doing well with Amelia.” Randolf sat beside Kanna and the sleeping Amelia. “In fact, I was surprised that she opened up to you quickly despite her first impression.”
“Hehe. About that…” Kanna scratched her cheeks. “It seems she thought I was around her age. Hence the situation.”
Randolf snorted a chuckle. “Who would have guessed. I can’t believe it went well because of her misunderstanding.”
[Should we tell her?] Mon chimed.
“No, don’t.” Kanna shook her head. “I’m fine with it. Besides, I don’t think she has that many friends, doesn’t she?”
Randolf frowned. “Unfortunately, that’s the truth. Royals in human kingdoms need be wary. Because most of the people around us want our position, our power. In Amelia’s case, the nobles would make their sons or daughters befriend Amelia so they can have a connection with us. Or at least, a connection with Amelia. So the people she meets, especially children around her age, is always under observation.”
“That’s… too constricting.” Kanna frowned.
“Well then.” Randolf lightly clapped his hands. “Let’s take a rest.”
[I’ll take the first lookout.]