“I’ve given her some medicine to help her recover. She’ll live.
“Thank you for treating her so well, Grace-sama. Thank you for letting her and I ride in your steam car.”
“Don’t worry about it, Ein. It’s less of a shock than a horse-drawn carriage. It will be less of a burden on the injured.”
After that we had collected what we could from the wagon and were on our way to the village we had originally set out for. Fortunately, she seems to be in good health. We had Ein ride with us in case she woke up.
“Did you know her?”
“Yes, she worked as a maid when I was in Dwell. To see her again like this.”
Ein bit her lip in frustration. she had a faint feeling like she was a daughter of a noble family. If I knew her better, I might be able to find out from the “World Library,” but since there’s an unspoken agreement not to probe the identities of adventurers, I wouldn’t do so. She doesn’t seem to mean any harm.
“I saw other corpses, many of them dwarven women and old men. Why are they here?”
“The forest isn’t that dangerous by nature. So, they often go hunting for rabbits and other animals. Stone armadillos don’t usually come out of the mine.”
“Does that mean there is something wrong in the mine? Could it be the mineral ants?”
“I guess so. The increase in the number of mineral ants is probably affecting us humans and other monsters besides the dwarves. The situation may be more serious than we thought. After all, the rift between the dwarves and humans is significant.”
Ein gazed painfully deep into the forest. Even though she has abandoned her homeland, she’s probably still as attached to it as Bowman. Hey, what did you just say?
“Rifts between dwarves and humans? But in Dwell, humans and dwarves are working hand-in-hand with each other, aren’t they? What’s going on?”
“Well, I may not be able to help you with your expedition, but I might as well tell you. In Dwell, humans and dwarves have been helping each other to survive. To be more specific, humans sell superior goods made by dwarves, who aren’t good at negotiating, and exchange them for food. Thanks to this, the people of Dwell have gained wealth by trading in armor and ornaments of a quality that humans cannot imitate. This is one of those things.”
Ein took a necklace encrusted with beautiful gems from her chest. Its elaborate carvings of a human and a dwarf holding hands might indeed be difficult for a human to read.
“As a sign of mutual trust, they would have the second daughters and sons of nobles and royalty live with humans and dwarves in exchange. We are different races. You have to spend time together to understand each other. I still remember the first time I came to my master’s house, I was made to drink fire wine after my bath and collapsed. I heard they drink alcohol instead of water.”
She murmurs nostalgically as she looks at the pendant. Her eyes are nostalgic, but somehow filled with sadness.
“And when it came to war, Dwarves and humans fought together. The dwarves, who were good at earth magic and strong, wore high-performance mithril weapons, and the humans, who were more numerous, supported them. That’s how we kept winning….”
“So you’re saying my country destroyed yours…..”
I see her nod and I feel bad. I know it was my father who invaded, but I still have his blood in my veins. I’m not a stranger to this.
And we’ve been exploiting them all along. ……
“Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but a little bit of resentment towards your country. You won a just war. You have the right to take supplies from the losers.”
“You do resent us a little….”
I blurted out with a disappointed look on my face, and Ein chuckled.
“But what was more unforgivable was the current human king. The king who was defeated by your country gave up his precious mithril and dwarves as he was told. Forcibly in spite of the Dwarves’ opposition.”
“So you say there was a rift between humans and dwarves…..”
It’s true that since the period when the war with Dwell was won, dwarves came to the royal court and the weapons of the Kingsguard were changed to those made of mithril. And that includes Bowman.
“Yes,…… the reason that Dwell, with its weakened power, wasn’t invaded by other nations was probably because it came under the aegis of your kingdom. In that respect, the human king may have made the right decision. But the result was that we became unfriendly and uncoordinated with the dwarves, and our domestic defenses were weakened. And not only that, various humans and dwarves were disappointed and left the country. Some of them were powerful tamers of dragons, others were excellent blacksmiths and one of them was me and my master.”
“I didn’t realize that but then why did you come to our recruiting efforts? Did you give up on Dwell?”
She looks out at my words with a complicated expression on her face. As Bowman had said, her feelings for her hometown must be hard to separate.
“I wonder why that’s so. Maybe I had a faint expectation or maybe I knew something. We’re through the forest. We are almost to the village.”
As she said, I looked out and saw a huge mine, even though it was still far away. The top of the mine was obscured by clouds, and although from a distance, I could make out something of brickwork that looked like a building. Even from this distance, the overwhelming mass of the mine is apparent, and my heart leaps with excitement, even if it’s inappropriate to say so.
And so we arrived at Dwell.