Northwest of Lorel.
The whole place is filled with mountain ranges, and not many hyumans enter that area.
Aside from a few settlements where demi-humans live a self-sufficient life, there’s many volcanoes and deep ravines in this area.
It is included in the territory of Lorel Union, but it is one of the locations that they have been unable to develop.
“Isn’t that Beren! Long time no see. Has it been around 30 years now?”
“I was feeling nostalgic, so I dropped by. This place…hasn’t changed much since the last time I came here.” (Beren)
At a certain volcano within that area, there was someone that had arrived there.
A short stature, yet, fleshed out with muscle, and a long beard that grew from below his chin.
An ancient dwarf race, the Elder Dwarf Beren.
He visited a dwarf village he had visited in the past.
“What would change in just a few decades? It is the same, this mountain, and us as well. I don’t know how it looks to you who has been from journey to journey though.”
“Seems that way. That’s why it is nostalgic huh.” (Beren)
Beren looked at the scenery that had practically not changed from what he remembers in his memories.
For the dwarfs, whether it be the elders, they are a race that considers decades as a short time.
And yet, this familiar visitor said that this place is nostalgic.
The dwarf that had come to greet Beren had a puzzled expression.
“…You, did something happen? Speak, I will listen.”
“Rather than words, there’s something that’s easier for us to understand, right? Catch.” (Beren)
“Oi, don’t just suddenly—this…is?!!”
What Beren threw was something that was wrapped in cloth.
It was too big for it to be alcohol.
The man that had received it, unwrapped the cloth and checks what it is.
It was a small axe that was around 1 meter in size counting both the handle and the head.
As he checked, he saw that the name of Beren carved in it.
The craftsmanship in his name was slightly reserved which could be said to be a design that fits Beren.
There’s no doubt it was Beren’s creation.
But the reason why the man was surprised was because of the quality of the axe itself.
“It is one of the things I recently made.” (Beren)
“Unbelievable. Yeah, it is unbelievable, but…I can certainly see peculiarities of yours in this. Something as overwhelming as this…was made by you? Impressive. It is truly impressive. But since when…”
“I had what you would call ‘a fateful encounter’. I want to have a talk with the village chief. Talk about the time when I left here, about the place where I had settled down afterwards, and also…about the encounter I told you a moment ago.” (Beren)
“O-Okay! Well, come with me. Seriously, the first time you came here was sudden, but your return was also so sudden. Moreover, you have appeared as a smither that can make such outrageous creations! I will have you tell me in detail, got it?!”
The man cheerfully and enjoyably guided Beren.
Looking at his back, Beren followed him from behind.
(Well, it is truly an unchanging place. If it were my past self of a few years ago, I would have seen it as normal though. Even I can’t believe it myself. Attacked by a spider, meeting Tomoe-sama and Waka-sama; it has only been a few years since then. Can barely be called a few years.)
Those were years that he could clearly tell that his ability was increasing everyday.
Moreover, it continues onto the present day.
The knowledge he has gained by interacting with the many races, Tomoe, Mio, and Shiki. Also, on top of that, the many unknown techniques that their ruler, Makoto, has brought about.
For Beren and for the Eldwas, this is a time for them to absorb everything as they continue their trial and error, and grow with all their ability.
Of course, within their living in Asora, they will one day hit a wall, and once they do, there will be a lot of things that will occupy their minds one after the other.
But that’s a thing of the future.
The amount of experience that has been piling up steadily is truly turning into something. This kind of happiness is currently being savored by the dwarfs of Asora.
There’s nothing as great as this for a craftsmen race.
(It is not only armour. There’s also ceramics, and miniaturized heavy equipment. I wonder what kind of face they will make when I show them those. And what they will wish. Waka-sama has repeatedly asked me not to do invitations that will chip off the national power of Lorel, but…only a small amount of dwarfs get involved with hyumans, so it should be fine to invite the ones that are not involved with them.)
If they are capable craftsmen, Beren intended to invite them to Asora.
At present, less than half of the dwarves are cooperating with the Lorel Union and the hyumans.
The dwarf race that surpasses the hyumans in knowledge and technique as craftsmen, have not received that much discrimination from the hyumans and are one of the demi-humans that are able to coexist with them. Because of the need to collect raw materials, dwarfs normally make villages in remote places.
For the dwarfs that live in precipitous mountain ranges, it isn’t that strange that they lack interaction with other races to begin with.
(Focusing on that, Tomoe-sama said that at first it was best to do this separately. Enter the country separately, and after gathering information, we rendezvous at the lodging. She said that was the ironclad rule or something like that, but…there’s probably some sort of deep meaning in it. She said that it was okay to act alone without the need to bring the Forest Onis, so at this moment, I should act as the representative of the Elder Dwarfs!)
Beren had been ordered to act separately by Tomoe, and instead of entering the country from the east entrance like Makoto and the others did, he entered by crossing the mountains.
Of course, it wasn’t an entrance that was permitted.
Or more like, the north and western side of Lorel Union was separated by mountain ranges that work as a natural shield, so there’s not really anything standing as a national border security.
Aside from having a Dragon Knight unit patrol the area, it is practically in a state where you can enter and leave as much as you want.
However, that’s only applicable with the condition that you can cross over the mountain range, are able to be self-sufficient for several days, and on top of that, you are able to fight continuously against all the mamonos as you do this.
The Dragon Knight unit also possesses pretty high reconnaissance ability, so it isn’t really that much of a reliable method to enter the country.
“We are here. Welcome back, Beren! Take your time!”
Beren, who had crossed the precipitous mountains alone and arrived at the volcano he was aiming for, didn’t show much exhaustion as he entered the dwarf village.
Maybe because Beren felt comfortable with the sounds of smithing and the presence of fire, his mouth had turned into a smile.
“It seems like you are also doing well, village chief.” (Beren)
The smithing sounds could be heard from various places.
It seems like Beren picked one of the peculiarities from within those sounds, he made a wry smile.
In the Elder Dwarf village that he had settled in, the chief there was also devoted to smithing.
It might be the nature of Dwarfs to get more motivated as they grow older. That’s how Beren thought.
And he himself will climb higher as a smither.
His wry smile was half directed at himself.
“By the way Beren, that’s quite the big baggage you have there. You must have alcohol there too, right? The Earth Spirits were making a big ruckus saying that someone they have never seen before was coming, but to think it was going to be a dwarf carrying baggage.”
“Of course. Leaving aside the amount, you can look forward to its quality.” (Beren)
(It can only be found in Asora after all.)
Beren carried luggage that surpassed his body weight by several times. Seeing it from afar, it would look as if the luggage was walking.
Receiving the report that something unknown was heading to the village, the warriors of the village had armed themselves and stood out, but they saw that it was their old friend Beren waving his hand.
“I am looking forward to it! This axe is plenty enough for a present, and yet, you are making me have even higher expectations!”
“The name of that creation is: ‘Mountain Cutter’. In time, I will master it and show it to you.” (Beren)
“Mountain Cutter huh. You have learned the Wise writing huh. Can’t underestimate you.”
“I see it habitually, so I simply got used to it. I am bad at using my head as always, you know.” (Beren)
“I’m relieved to hear that. Now then, I will let you meet that hardheaded geezer–I mean, the village chief. Just stay there, okay? When you are done talking with him, I will have returned from telling the others. At that time, let me hear your story!”
“Thanks. Later then.” (Beren)
Beren and the man that was guiding him entered the imposing workshop.
In the past when Beren had entered this place to give his greetings, he was nervous and withered, but now, for some mysterious reason, he was calm.
With a smile, Beren met with the village chief that had turned around.
At that night when Beren had made his revisit, there was a banquet -even if modest- at the dwarf village located halfway up the volcano.
However, the center of it which is Beren was nowhere to be found, along with the village chief.
The reason was because of the many goods Beren displayed to the village chief at their meeting.
“To think that you had gone all the way to the wasteland and settled there.”
“It was a result of drifting and drifting about. After leaving here, I added up journeys and settled down in a town called Tsige. After that, I tried going to the wasteland. Rather that calling it smith training, it was more like searching for the many weapons that were sleeping within that land.” (Beren)
“Umu, there’s people that gather treasures from distant lands, and it is also the gravestone of the strong adventurers. So there’s probably many weapons sleeping there.”
“Yes. And then, after continuing deeper and deeper, I found an Elder Dwarf village and…” (Beren)
“And that’s when you noticed the blood relation within yourself huh. It is true that I felt like you were from a different lineage, but to think that you were actually an Elder Dwarf. Even I am surprised.”
“I was too.” (Beren)
The two of them were in a separate room and drinking alcohol with a lamp as their light and talking about peaceful topics.
There’s no lively drinking like the one at the feasts where they lift the cask and drink from it.
“On top of that, you encountered that black spider alone and managed to return alive. You are the hero of the dwarfs.”
“Well, if I had to choose, I would say I was the princess there. The princess that was saved. If Tomoe-sama and Waka-sama were not there, I would have been devoured, no doubt.” (Beren)
“…That’s it. That’s what I have been bothered with.”
“What is it?” (Beren)
“That Waka-sama. From what I have heard of you, he is without doubt a Wise-sama. Moreover, a very special one. Surpassing the impossible, and bending common sense. He is exactly that archetype.”
“The person himself says he is not though. But the reality might be that it really is the case.” (Beren)
“There’s no talk about the Wise aside from the territory of Lorel after all. In short, it is how they are called, and just as it states, it is not that they are intelligent people. If I had to put it in words, it would be people that ‘know about unusual stuff’. Also, one of the traits of the Wise-samas is that they don’t really like when you call them in a way too respectful manner.”
The words of the village chief made Beren smile wryly.
It is certainly true that the traits of the Wise that has been passed down in Lorel match Makoto.
It is not like he is a wise man, but at times, he would know some specialized techniques.
Even though he doesn’t know the basics of living, architecture, and smithing, he would at times speak about advanced techniques that would develop them further.
It is true that his master Makoto is that kind of mysterious existence.
‘Knows of unusual things’, Beren thought that it was a pretty accurate way of putting it.
“There were some containers made of earth in the things that you brought. You said that was ceramics, right?”
“Actually, it seems like in the long past, there was something like that too in our village.”
“Its name was exactly the same, ceramic. Or was it pottery? Oh well, anyways, I was told that it this was also knowledge brought by one of the Wise-sama.”
“But the first time I came here, there was no such thing.” (Beren)
“By that time, it couldn’t be used anymore. In the olden days, there was a time when the ground repeatedly trembled and the flow of the river changed heavily. Most of the craftsmen that had devoted to ceramics had died, and as a result, the technique itself turned fuzzy…and in time, it was lost.”
“I didn’t know…” (Beren)
“It was something from a long past after all. It was at a time when Lorel didn’t exist yet. The word Wise didn’t exist either.”
“That long… Then how did you know he was a Wise? Just because of that new technique?” (Beren)
“It was a deduction from the fact that he used the writing of the Wise and…because that person had a truly short lifespan. There’s probably no mistake.”
“Short lifespan… About how much?” (Beren)
This was something Beren was heavily interested.
Makoto is also a Wise, an otherworldler.
Meaning, their lifespan should be almost the same.
Right now he can’t even imagine him dying, but there’s no doubt he has a lifespan.
“Since coming to the village, it took a mere 80 years. The records of it are unclear, but it seems like that person died without even reaching the hundred years. Like a hyuman.”
The face of Beren grew clouded.
It is way too short.
Cold despair was gathering deep in his stomach.
“He was the only Wise-sama that has lived in our village, but…even so, he left a lot of things behind. I can understand the sentiment of Lorel to protect them. That’s most likely the correct action to take.”
“As a result, the Wise can also protect them, and their livelihood will be stabilized. It is a good relationship.” (Beren)
“…It is not only about loss and gains. You are also with someone like that, so you should understand, right? The Wise-samas repay good will to their best, and repudiate bad actions. It seems like there were some who have taken arms and some that walked the path of darkness, but the majority were of calm temperament. They are way too kind. That’s why they are highly esteemed, not only by the hyumans, but also by demi-humans, and obviously, us as well.”
“Way too kind, huh.” (Beren)
“I have heard that even in war, even if they were faced with an enemy, they would forgive them as best as they can, save their life, and provided them a chance to redo their lives.”
“…I see. A kindness that you have to protect or it will die out huh. Like a lovely flower.” (Beren)
Then…it probably doesn’t apply to Makoto, is what Beren thought.
It is true that the ruler of Asora, Makoto, is kind, and he is also a good person. However, his power is so overwhelming to the point that even a Superior Dragon and the Calamity Spider obey him.
He is definitely not a flower that one can simply pluck out.
“They are not flowers that can be easily plucked out though. The Wise-samas are all stronger than the average. They have an overwhelming latent talent that at times, our weapons can’t reach.”
“Lately, I have heard that the heroes are pretty Wise-like though.” (Beren)
“Yeah, it seems so. I heard that the Limia hero who had visited this country, had revealed herself to the Empress as an otherworldler. She is accompanied by the priestess, so it must be true.”
“So you already knew.” (Beren)
“We have connections with the other dwarf villages, you see. The Wise-sama that was in this village, by the time his hair had gone white, he was strong to a point that he was able to match a dragon with the dragon slaying sword, Einkarf. The heroes must be relatively strong too.”
“I see. But to do dragon slaying at an old age, this village’s Wise was also an unbelievable person.” (Beren)
“It is not assured that the records are all true, but it seems like he was 96 at that time. In terms of hyuman lifespan, that would mean he defeated a dragon while he was at death’s door. At the time when the village got attacked by flying dragons, he brought out his weapon and fought along with the warriors of the village.”
Makoto might have done the same thing, is what Beren thought.
If something were to happen in Asora, he would also risk his life.
For some reason, Beren was able to believe this without any doubt.
Makoto probably wouldn’t admit it, but this can be considered the highest type of trust that the residents have towards their lord.
“…And then, until the very end, he soared through the skies and hunted down all the dragons…and after that, died.”
“An heroic story. And he was able to bring out such righteousness even towards a race he was not related with. It is the story of a man that should be sung praises for.” (Beren)
“Even if it was slightly exaggerated, it is impressive, right? After doing as much as that, we also have to repay him. That’s why a number of his words have remained in this village, and still live. This ceramic technique was lost though… But in the first place, even within the dwarfs, we are the type that likes the back regions, a family of eccentrics that have devoted themselves to their lives as blacksmiths. This isn’t something I should be saying myself but, we were stubborn and…kind of shut-ins. In the past, our stance was to turn away outsiders.”
“But, even if I am a brethren, I remember that I was received pretty warmly when I came here.” (Beren)
“Listen till the end. That’s exactly one of the things that changed with his words. When he taught us the technique to knead earth, he brought out a number of examples and left warnings and aphorisms. Within the words that have remained of him, there’s something called foreign soil guests.”
“Foreign soil?” (Beren)
“Umu. From the meaning that remained in the village, it implies that the earth of another land brought by the stream is something that enriches this land and brings about change.”
“I see. Carried earth huh. Change… fumu.” (Beren)
“With that as the turning point, we began seeing the outsiders as foreign soil, and didn’t chase them away just because they are from the outside. Accept them, help each other out, change, and mutually ripening. That’s what he said.”
“That’s why you saw me as foreign soil as well and accepted me.” (Beren)
“I just wanted to say that this trait had remained in the village. Also, Beren, you have…brought us this. Ceramics.”
“It wasn’t a repayment with knowledge of your circumstances though. It is embarrassing to say this, but it was 100% a coincidence.” (Beren)
“It is fine. That in itself is the very soil of his teachings. You have trained into being able to make this level of weapons, learned of ceramics, and has brought this heavy equipment device. All of this is the ripening of our past encounter. I didn’t know I would be able to experience such a happy sensation before I die.”
“Village chief…” (Beren)
The grateful eyes of this old man that is strict and merciless, was, for some reason, unpleasant for Beren.
He was being directed pure gratitude by the village chief.
In his time when he was training, he was punched, kicked, and had his beard and hair burned by the village chief. To think that fiend is the same person as this, he couldn’t believe it at all.
“Let’s hear your conditions, Beren. Not as a past apprentice of mine, but as the envoy of the master you are currently serving for, Makoto-sama. Begin your talk once again. Bringing this many goods here, I don’t think you have crossed the northern mountain range with that heavy baggage just to show them to me.”
The old man that was his teacher in the past, has declared that he will be treating Beren as a person of the same standing.
Beren displays equipment for Makoto, Tomoe, and the others in Asora, but he could feel a different kind of happiness than that of being acknowledged by them.
Northern part of Lorel, Beren had begun mobilizing.