The water from the river was very clear.
Despite the summer heat, the water flowing out of the forest was really cold.
I could see wet rocks shining in the distance, the water on them having not evaporated.
The horse-drawn carriage was currently parked beside it.
After taking off my shoes, I stepped into the water to try it out.
As I thought, it’s cold. Currently, it’s around two in the afternoon, meaning it’s the hottest time of the day, but that just makes the cold water feel even better.
Ah~ I’m finally back home. A feeling that was both beautiful and natural swept over me.
Looking around, the land was gradually turning more green, making it even more beautiful.
“This is the Helan territory.”
Iris descended from the carriage shortly after and took in the view with her mouth agape. Vaine could be described the same way.
“The water’s so clear! Kya! And It’s cold too!”
Iris stepped into the river while saying so.
“This looks like a good fishing spot.” Vaine pointed out with a slightly different perspective. Well, he’s not wrong.
In the river, you could see a few fish swimming here and there.
I cupped a bit of water into my hands and drank it without hesitation.
A cool feeling immediately flushed throughout my body. Natural water sure is refreshing.
The other two drank some themselves after watching me.
“It’s great!” “This is good water.”
For some reason their happy faces made me smile, almost unwillingly so.
“Ah, welcome to the Helan Territory!”
“It’s a nice place.”
Iris said with shining eyes.
Just by looking at the territory her eyes had begun to gleam, I’m sure they’ll shine even more in when she see’s the rest.
‘It’s somehow fun watching her’, that’s the kind of feeling I’m getting right now.
As Vaine immersed his lower body in the water he said: “I want to come back here sometime just to relax.”
Looking closely at him, he also seemed to have shining eyes.
They were the eyes of a young boy in his prime.
“How about we stay here one night then? We have everything we need, and we can have an amazing dinner if we grill some of the river fish.”
“Seconded!” Iris cheered while raising her hands and jumping into the river.
“Okay then, let’s get some fishing equipment ready.”
First I had Vaine look for tree branches that we could use as replacements for fishing rods, but because the forest was nearby, it shouldn’t be too hard.
After that Iris and I searched through our luggage for materials that we could use in replacement for fishing lines and hooks.
We couldn’t find hooks, so I created some by processing a little bit of iron with magic.
Shaving down the end, they slowly became pointed. I’m a little anxious because I wasn’t able to put barbs on it, but with Vaine’s fishing skill there shouldn’t be a problem.
The ‘fishing line’ that we found was just white yarn…
It might not be the best fishing equipment but it passes, right?
Just as we finished, Vaine came back with three branches that were the perfect size for rods.
He is truly a dependable man.
We immediately tied the threads on, and our fishing rods were completed.
For bait, we used the dried meat we had on us.
‘Will fish eat meat?’ I thought, but Vaine pushed away that anxiety by saying “If they can smell it, the fish will eat anything.” how reliable.
Climbing to the top of the biggest rock I could find, I cast my yarn.
The best strategy for fishing is to be patient. The scenery is beautiful too, so it’s the perfect time for me to relax and take it all in.
Iris stood at the edge of the river and took aim, placing a foot into the water before finally casting her line.
This was probably her own way of enjoying both the coolness of the river and fishing at the same time.
Looking at Vaine, he walked in until he was submerged to his waist before casting.
From my viewpoint, he looked completely like a professional.
With a slightly apologetic look, Iris called out to me saying “Do you need any help over there?” To which I replied “No,this is just how I do things. I like fishing this way.”
Seriously, I’m really having fun here.
Anyways, I’ll stop playing around now and start fishing for real!
Plopping myself down on the rock, I started sucking on a piece of dried meat while patiently waiting for my prey.
This is a really relaxing moment for me.
Under the cool shade of a tree, my heart was being healed by the beautiful scenery in around me.
“Ah~ This is so blissful~”
“Fufu, just now you sounded like an old man.”
At the bottom of the rock to my lower left, I could see Iris looking up at me.
Apparently, my words from a little while ago were funny considering that fact that she was still giggling a bit.
“This is only the edge of the Helan Territory and it’s still this beautiful.”
Taking a seat beside me, she cast her line into the river.
“It is, and I can only imagine what the center will be like. It’s probably amazing considering the proud face have on, Kururi.”
“I can’t wait to see the flower gardens and the hot springs, they’re probably amazing. If I don’t see them during this trip I’ll probably go crazy.”
“Don’t forget the summer resort, it’s the best we have.”
“The best? Really?”
Iris started to grin as she imagined the sights. Though as much I loved this conversation we were having, weren’t we supposed to be fishing?
A little while after my conversation with Iris finished, I felt the fishing rod move unnaturally for a second.
Huh? Do I have a bite?
I immediately jumped up and grabbed the pole.
The fish was putting up quite the fight, it was probably a big one!
I tried to reel the thread in as quickly as I could.
At that moment there was a huge splash, and the fish had escaped from the hook, leaving me with nothing but a sense of dissatisfaction.
“Aryaryaryaryarya!” Almost mockingly, I could hear a voice suddenly shouting out from the side.
Well, I guess it would be difficult to catch a fish with a hook without barbs.
“Ah~ I knew that it would be difficult for an amateur like me to catch anything.”
“I still think it’s amazing that you were able to get something on your line at all.”
“Oh? Did you see it? It was pretty big, right?”
“Yeah, definitely a big one.”
Well, I guess it wasn’t a total loss.
It’s still a shame, but oh well.
My motivation took a hit though.
I pierced another piece of meat onto the hook and prepped my rod.
Okay, let’s try this one more time.
A little while after that, Iris was the next one to get a bite.
The fish that bit onto her hook rampaged, bouncing in and out of the water. She caught a big one.
Iris started reeling in the yarn calmly, we have to be vigilant since the hook didn’t have any barbs.
Maybe taking note of my failure earlier, she took her time moving her hands carefully.
But with a merciless splash, the fish swam away.
“Ah—!” Iris’ face twisted in distraught at that moment.
I know I shouldn’t laugh, this isn’t something that you laugh at, but somehow I found myself laughing.
Even though she tried so hard to reel it in, she ended up letting her fish go the same way I did.
…Iris didn’t speak to me again until the day was almost over.
On another note, I was able to get a lot of fish on the hook, but I was never able to reel them in completely.
“Hey, where’s Vaine?”
I turned to look at the direction Iris was at.
Huh?! No way. I had forgotten about Vaine during our conversations but…
I looked over to where he was standing before.
He’s really gone! Don’t tell me, was he washed away?!
A sudden wave of anxiety flushed through me.
Placing down my fishing rod, I ran over to the place I saw Vaine last.
If I remember correctly, he was waist-deep in the water.
Because the river was calm on the surface, I didn’t think about how strong it would be under it…
This is bad, my anxiety is going crazy right now.
“Buwa!” Suddenly a weird sound resounded from the river, and a completely soaked Vaine entered my vision.
It looks like he dived into the river.
“I guess this will suffice for now.”
Inside of a hemp bag held in Vaine’s hands was the form of what appeared to be multiple fish rampaging at the fact they were caught.
I guess my worries were needless.
Then there’s that, to be able to catch a huge harvest of fish while the two of us couldn’t catch any. As expected of Vaine!
Since it started to get colder as the day went on, the three started a fire.
Vaine and my clothes had gotten wet, so we had to change.
Luckily I had a few sets of clothes in our luggage in the carriage. Dry clothes against cold skin really do feel warmer.
I asked Vaine if he was going to change too, since all he did was take off his top and in response he said:
“I’m fine, I can just dry my clothes.”
He truly is a man who was going to live in the mountains and forests. Though somehow being the only one who changed clothes makes me feel effeminate.
As the sun started to set, our fire continued to rise.
We collected quite a few wood chips, so the fire was burning well.
Vaine was drying his clothes nearby while warming his body. He was trembling, so I tried to lend him my clothes, but he refused, saying “No, I can handle cold on this level.”
I wonder if this is just a strange proclivity for him. Honestly, it’s a bit scary.
I called the coachman over, so the four of us could feast on baked fish together.
A fragrant smell started to rise, as the fish cooked. Since we did a lot of moving today I was really hungry.
We even fixed them up a bit with spices.
The four of us dug into the grilled fish like beasts.
There was no conversation at all, nothing but the sound of us eating.
Well, it’s the seasonal fish, it’s that delicious.
The sadness felt when I took that last bite, finishing the batch was amazing.
Once I had finished eating I let out a “That was delicious.” as I laid down on my back.
Soon after, Vaine and Iris plopped themselves down beside me.
We had our blankets with us, and it’s a nice night out. We can just sleep near the carriage tonight.
Lying down on blankets, the silhouettes of three people could be seen staring into the sky.
The sky was absolutely clear, both the sparkling stars and the serene moon could be easily seen.
Iris said in a soulful voice. Her face seemed to say that she was completely satisfied with how this day went.
Lying down to take in the stars after a delicious feast. This truly was an amazing day.
“I think Iris is also beautiful.”
From the bomb that Vaine suddenly threw, Iris and I called out in surprise.
Yet the person in question just turned to the sky and said; “The stars are also beautiful.”
Iris’s face had flushed red.
Vaine didn’t have any ulterior motives when he said that, he probably just said what first popped into his head at the moment.
Though that’s exactly why it had such an effect on Iris, who was currently covering half her face with a blanket.
As expected of a wild man like Vaine-kun!
This is good.
Maybe because he did a lot today, Vaine was the first one to fall asleep.
He snores a bit, but it’s not annoying.
The fish we had today were caught by him too, so I’ll overlook this much.
“Vaine fell asleep.”
Poking her head out of her blankets, Iris whispered to me softly.
“Ah, not that that bugs me or anything. I’m a little sad that Crossy wasn’t able to come with us, but I’m having more fun than I expected during this trip.”
“That’s funny, I was thinking the same thing.”
“Fufu, well it’s because of Kururi that I can experience this happiness.”
“What’s with that? I’m going to feel embarrassed if you just compliment me out of the blue.”
“Well we don’t want that now, do we? I guess it’s about time I went to bed too.”
“Ah, you’re running away!”
With a small laugh, Iris also went to sleep.
Both of them were sleeping so I just took in the calming scenery in full, and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep too.
Maybe it’s because we got to see and beautiful night sky last night, but we were all able to wake up the next morning completely refreshed.
Boarding the horse-drawn carriage again, we continued on our trip to my home.
Since we’ve already entered the territory, we should arrive at the mansion today.
We proceeded through the highway at a good rhythm.
Passing one town after another, the villagers came out in droves to greet us.
“It’s Kururi-sama!” “Kururi-sama has come home!” “It’s the young master!” “Everything will be alright from here on out!”
Even though we didn’t stop the carriage and just pressed on, the villagers still came out to welcome us.
We passed through several towns, but all of them seemed to say the same things.
This was good, I was a bit worried that everyone was going to forget about me during my absence.
However, the big deal that they’re all making of my return is a bit troubling as well.
Did I do anything for them to like me this much?
The horse-drawn carriage had finally arrived just before noon.
There stood my house, just as imposing as it was before I left.
Well it’s not like it’s going to change in such a short period of time anyways.
Dropping down from the carriage, I had finally returned home after quite some time with Vaine and Iris behind me.