Chapter 51: Ritzhard’s Lonely Years — First Half
He passed away when the sun did not set, when the forest shined the brightest, the favourite season of his.
Grandfather taught me how to make traditional handicrafts, how to hunt, how to butcher animals and taught me everything about being a lord. He said that he had no regrets and then left this world.
I really think that he tried his best for a really long time.
I laid him next to grandmother, so that he may rest in peace.
After that, every day was a struggle. Though I acting as the substitute because grandfather fell ill, it didn’t mean that I could do everything perfectly.
After I was being chased by work for some months, my parents summoned me.
The bad feeling I had was spot-on.
Father said this.
—— It’s getting a bit cold, so I’m going on an adventure to someplace warmer.
It wasn’t surprising. Father always wanted to explore the world for a long time. He was finally free from grandfather who did not allow him to go on an adventure that left his family behind.
However, what surprised me was what mother said next.
—— I’m worried about dad so mum’s going along.
Oh no, it’s doubly destructive with the two of them.
How should I describe my parents? Aloof, or unworldly.
However, I thought that for my parents a more relaxing environment was better than this bleak town, so I didn’t stop them.
Father prepared for the journey carefully, taking his time. Meanwhile, mother made other preparations, such as arranging a maid for the mansion.
Then, it was the day of their departure.
“Ritchan, sorry we had to go at such a tough time.”
“It’s alright. It’s not like I expected anything from you anyways.”
Even though I said something rude, Father relaxedly murmured, “Really? That’s a relief.” Mother too was all smiles.
“Oh, my, dear, Ritchan, look, it’s pretty butterfly-san~”
Seeing the butterfly float about, father let out a surprised voice.
“Th-That’s the globally rare legendary butterfly, Helena Morpho!! Why is it here!?”
With that, father started chasing after the butterfly.
“My my, oh my~”
Mother flutteringly waved her hands and started running after father!?……with a slow speed that one might doubt that was even running.
……This feels enervating, somewhat.
My worrisome parents set off without much special warning.
I wanted to reassure them or something by talking about my position as the lord, but they went off in a very carefree manner without listening to my story.
In this manner, I began living alone.
It was my first year as a lord.
The first thing I wanted to do was to return the Spirit stone Siedi that grandfather removed back to the village square.
However, the stone is quite big, so I can’t carry it by myself.
I considered getting someone else to help, but in this period all the villagers are desperate preparing for the polar nights so I couldn’t talk to them.
In addition, I was also busy preparing for the polar nights. Mother made some preserved food in bottles, and I preserved some hunted meat in the snow. Since the maid won’t be coming during the polar nights, I’ll have to rely on the preserved food mother made.
Then, once the time that the sun was up grew shorter, I went around and checked if everyone had enough.
Well, I did sorta expect it, but the people are cold to me.
Because of my grandfather’s reforms, my family is disliked by the villagers. There’s also that I have foreign blood mixed in.
Anyway, the sun was setting, so I ended with that for the day.
On my way back. While I was walking down the snow-filled street, I heard the shrill cry of a chicken from behind me.
When I turned around, I saw a chicken desperately running away.
There was also a girl desperately chasing after it.
“S-Stop!! I told you to, stop!!”
Only thinking of the shortest distance, the chicken ran straight towards here. It was trying to go between my legs, so when it came close I seized it by its wings.
“Are you alright? Aina.”
The girl breathed heavily, her shoulders moving up and down.
“Hey, is this, dinner?”
In the village, people eat the chicken before it becomes too cold to raise outside.
Just during the winter, the clucking sounds of chickens disappear from the village.
The caught chicken still had much vigour. The girl looked a little frightened.
“Could it have, run away?”
“……T-Tag! We were playing that.”
When I placed the chicken in the bag Aina had in her hand, she looked a bit tense because the chicken kept jumping about.
“Are you alright? What about the slaughtering?”
Aina is six now. At this age, children start helping with slaughtering small animals.
Her eyes darted about from my question, so she might have been ordered to slaughter the chicken.
“Want to do it together?”
Thus, I helped with slaughtering the chicken and returned when it was completely dark.
And for the first time, I hailed the polar nights (kaamos) alone.
Just until last year, we gathered together in one room, making traditional handicrafts, singing spirit songs (joik), spending the dark days merrily.
However, spending the polar nights alone was very depressing.
I also told the maid to not come during the polar nights. So I have to cook for myself.
The breads were buried en masse in the snow. Cooking started from excavating the breads from the snow.
It was the first time I cooked. Mother did all the cooking, and even when I was assigned tasks, they were just simple things such as finely chopping ingredients.
Today, I was making soup with reindeer meat and root vegetables.
I placed a pot of water on the fireplace-cum-stove and sliced the ingredients in.
Recalling what mother did, I put in some spices from the shelf too.
Somehow, a sticky soup was created. While wondering about it, I poured some into a wooden bowl.
As for the bread, I wrapped it paper and steamed it on the pot.
Warm bread and steaming soup.
I praised myself that I could do it if I put my mind to it.
After giving a prayer in thanks to the blessings of nature, I had a spoonful of soup.
My first soup was unfortunately not as delicious as I had expected.
I poured my passion and energy into improving my cooking during my first polar nights.
When the polar nights were over, I came to meet a surprising situation that my parents returned.
They were just here to visit. They dropped off a family from a martial race somewhere, briefly told me the circumstances then left again.
The martial race family consisted of three members, the father, the mother and the daughter.
It seemed that they were also a nomadic race, and they were dressed in strange attire not seen in these parts.
Light brown skin, black hair and black eyes. They look valiant like lions…… all three of them. Father said that they had been wandering around for a long time, so maybe they became like that from their journey.
Their clothes were strange too.
What especially bothered me was the biggest person, the man named Teoporon.
In this cold, he did not have anything on top. He had trousers at the least, but the fabric was thin.
He had a large dagger, and he was barefoot, wearing no shoes. However, his feet showed no signs of freezing, so he should be fine.
Still, I was worried that he was barefoot, so I asked him if he was okay. To that, Teoporon gestured for me to touch the soles of his feet.
When I carefully touched them, the soles of his feet were rock-hard. I felt relieved at that.
The women weren’t wearing thick clothes either. They were wearing brown clothes made out of animal hides, decorated with fringes. It was their traditional clothing. On the heads, they had colourful decorations, with some bird tail feather around their ears. They adorned their ears with feathers.
“N-Nice to meet you.”
Like so, I suddenly started living with foreigners. I wanted to complain to my parents who brought this family over, but they were already gone.
We couldn’t communicate, our lifestyle, culture, religion was all different.
We were very different people, but we got along mysteriously well.
Also, I was now able to do things I wasn’t able to do alone.
I could return the heavy stone to the village with some help from Teoporon.
Though, the villagers criticised that I was feigning magnanimity. I gave up because they wouldn’t listen no matter what I said.
I faced many problems, and desperately tried to solve them. From that, my first year as a lord passed by very quickly.