Ex Strongest, Reaching the Hometown of the Paladin
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Soma didn’t believe all of Ingrid’s words.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t believe Ingrid, but that he might have made some mistakes. It seemed that he had mistakenly received the evaluation from Eleonora for some reason.
“Oh, oh, you have returned. Are you doing well?” (??)
“I was surprised that you’re back all of a sudden, but I guess you’re busy too. I’m relieved to see how cheerful you are for the time being.” (??)
“Have you decided what to eat today? If not, come and have a meal with us. What? You don’t have to hold back, you know!” (??)
“How’s life in the Holy City? We don’t see each other a lot. So, let us know what you like!” (??)
Honestly, the truth was that he never thought this far indeed. Yes, they reached the village and Ingrid was greatly welcomed.
However, that was really unexpected for Ingrid herself as shown on her face. With puzzlement in mind, Ingrid watched the villagers gathered around her.
Soma and Hildegard were looking at such Ingrid from a distance. It might be more accurate to say that they were wondering what happened.
“Now… I wonder what should we do?” (Soma)
“It looks like she is really welcomed, and I don’t feel like we need to do anything about it.” (Hildegard)
By the way, Hildegard finally returned to normal condition when she got off the horse. There was an exception where there was a happy smile on her face, but… he didn’t have to worry about that anymore.
Anyhow… there was a point with what Hildegard said. Rather than trying to get rid of Ingrid, they were welcoming her. Speaking of what needed to be done, there was no such a thing.
Yes, there was nothing, but…
“Aah, no. That… uhmm…” (Ingrid)
Ingrid seemed to be seriously confused. She was glancing at them, asking for help.
It was fine since she was really welcomed, but this couldn’t be left as it was.
“Hmm, what are you going to do? It would be strange to stop just because she is in trouble.” (Hildegard)
“Yeah, I wonder… hmm…” (Soma)
When he said that, there was a person stepping forward on the spot. It was a crooked old man, who looked out over the scene with a gentle smile.
“This is everyone. I know that you all are happy Ingrid is back, but she’s in trouble, right? Just let her be for now.” (??)
The old man’s words finally made everyone calm. While each of them had an embarrassing look on their faces, they began to apologize to Ingrid.
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“Certainly, that’s right… but you have returned so suddenly.” (??)
“Yeah… I was so excited since it has been so long. Sorry about that.” (??)
While watching the situation, Soma let out a breath as if he was impressed. The old man didn’t say so strongly. Even though those words are just normal words, it displayed excellent leadership.
He could feel the years, and it might be that this old man was…
“…Village mayor.” (Soma)
It was almost at the same time Soma came up with the title and Ingrid muttered so.
And the old man, the village mayor, smiled broadly and looked at Ingrid while squinting his narrow eyes.
“Sorry, Ingrid. It seems that everyone is so happy that you came back.” (Mayor)
“N-no… I was confused, but I’m grateful.” (Ingrid)
“It helps if you say that. So… I wonder what happened today. You’re no longer a resident of this village, but as a Paladin of the Holy City… you wouldn’t come back at all, like today, right?” (Mayor)
With that said, the village mayor turned his eyes towards Soma and Hildegard for a moment.
Indeed, she came with them, so the old man seemed to know that she didn’t come home for no reason. Even though the village wasn’t so big, it seemed that he was holding a position that managed the village.
“That’s right. I came here because I had some business today.” (Ingrid)
“Hmm… It’s something that can be discussed here. Then, why don’t you come to my house?” (Mayor)
“…Will that be alright?” (Ingrid)
“Why are you holding back? It’s only for a short time, but it’s a place where you have lived in, right? Even if you become a Paladin in the Holy City, that fact still won’t change. Don’t hesitate to do anything. You guys also, come and join us.” (Mayor)
“Hmm… thank you for your concern.” (Soma)
“Thank you.” (Hildegard)
They were invited kindly. They didn’t plan to disregard it.
When he turned his eyes to Ingrid with that in mind, she was still puzzled, but she gave a firm nod. It was acknowledged.
Then, Soma and the others decided to head to the village mayor’s house for the time being.
They were walking together under the sky where the indigo color began to mix. It was about time for the sun to set, but it was as expected since they had originally predicted that they would arrive around this time. Soma squinted his eyes as he walked and looked around.
When he first saw the village, it was a quite village. It was very different from the city on the west side.
As previously mentioned, Soma entered the Holy City from the east side, but there was a village on the east side where people lived just about half a day by horse. It was a place that could be clearly called a city, and perhaps, he could even think that the city was more prosperous than the royal capital of Radeus. At least, this village had the difference between cloud and mud.
When asked which Soma preferred, he would choose the village without hesitation. Soma tried to master swordsmanship in the previous life, but he didn’t like fighting in particular. If he could do whatever he wanted in a quiet place, he would be better off staying there. But for some reason, that didn’t happen.
Anyhow, the reaction of the villagers, who saw Soma and Hildegard coming to such a place, was a surprise reaction. However, this wasn’t because they noticed Ingrid, but because they saw her appearance. Ingrid returned home wearing armor that could be said as the Paladin’s formal wear.
Ingrid told them that the villagers rarely went to the Holy City even though they lived near it. But they probably know the Paladin’s appearance.
Paladins were the guardians of the Holy City. They rarely went out from there. Although the villagers might be accustomed to travelling, they might not be used to the arrival of a Paladin. Thus, they were surprised.
Moreover, when they looked closely, the Paladin was someone who left the village to the holy city to become a Paladin. Further surprise spread to the surroundings, and it became a commotion like the earlier time.
When they headed to the village mayor’s house, he looked back on the place, but there was nothing unnatural. Rather, it was the flow of evens that Soma originally expected. If anything, it should be said that it was natural.
“What do you think about the earlier part, Hildegard?” (Soma)
“Well… I thought there was nothing particularly unnatural. Rather, that’s normal. Speaking of unnatural, I think that’s Ingrid.” (Hildegard)
“Indeed. It’s not strange because her expectation is not well met since she didn’t think they would welcome them.” (Soma)
From her standpoint, she thought that she would be shunned. Well, it was supposed to be something normal for her. However, in reality, it was the exact opposite. If he considered as per normal, Ingrid was exaggerating, but her surprise was also genuine by all means.
In other words, at least, she thought that was the case.
“So, how’s life in the Holy City? If it’s you, I think it should be fine, but… I rather worry about you. I’m worried that you’ll try too hard.” (Mayor)
“Ah, aah… no. It’s fine. There’s no problem. The people around me are all good people.” (Ingrid)
“I see… that’s the most important thing. Since you are there, I’m sure they are relying on you.” (Mayor)
“N-no, that’s not true. The people around me are far better than me.” (Ingrid)
“Is that so? I probably think that it is surely that way since it’s about you. You’re always underestimate yourself, you know.” (Mayor)
“N-no, I don’t think so…” (Ingrid)
The sense of incongruity that Soma and Hildegard felt before about her was happening right in front of them.
The village mayor was constantly talking to Ingrid, and his eyes were gentle. It was easy to notice that he was really worried, but Ingrid seemed to be confused. She showed an appearance that she didn’t understand why the man was kind and worried about her.
Ingrid also felt that his good intentions were genuine. Although she was confused, she managed to keep herself calm, but it was obvious to Soma and Hildegard. It was hard to say whether the village mayor hadn’t noticed it, but… while watching the situation, Soma nodded.
“…Apparently, there are more of them than I expected.” (Soma)
“Yeah. Well, I thought that would be the case when you are here.” (Hildegard)
“What does that mean?” (Soma)
While discussing such things, Soma looked around the place and turned his gaze toward Ingrid and the mayor. As the darkness approached, he let out a breath, wondering what happened.
To be honest, ‘he’ didn’t think that things would progress so well. ‘He’ confirmed that when ‘he’ looked at those who gathered on the spot, and ‘he’ smiled quietly.
There was also a possibility that she wouldn’t come here… No, it was more likely. It was fortunate that she came here.
However, this was the crucial moment. It took her two years to come here. ‘He’ couldn’t fail.
‘The one who will get everything is not her. It will be me.’
As ‘he’ thought of the situation, ‘he’ rearranged his thought while declaring those words.
- Not sure whose POV on the last part, so I’m using ‘he’ since the monologue used ‘Ore’.
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