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Vermillion - Chapter 15.2


Published at 22nd of June 2017 04:24:19 PM
Chapter 15.2
[PART 2]

“Hey, that hurts! What are you doing?”

“Quiet down, don’t be so loud!”

It was outside . Tina, with a red forehead, was raising her voice . Cronen undauntedly scowled at her .
“Please, just don’t make a scene…!”

“Why not? This is a once in a lifetime chance!”

“Chance? It’s a chance?!” Cronen smiled dryly . “Forget the girl; that Kei is a monster! If we mess up who knows what he’d do to us!”

“We just put all the blame on that pig . It wouldn’t bother me if he was killed . ”

“You…!” His face twitched when she said that . “Be that as it may, he’s still my brother!”

“I know! I love you, but I don’t like him . I hate him . ” Tina looked away .

She still held a grudge from when Danny used to make fun of her . He would say that she smelled like a pig because she helped her parents raise their pigs as livestock . Even though it was regular farming, those insults were the reason she became such a clean freak .

“I know that you hate him . But these are different matters . If he died, who would succeed the village leader?!”
“…You! Who else could there be!?” Tina said in disbelief, her voice cracking and her cheeks flushing .

In contrast, Cronen appeared slightly annoyed, but also disheartened .

— It was impossible for him .

He hated knowing that he couldn’t do it .

Cronen was self-conscious of it . He could never replace Danny .

Although, it was true that Danny had many flaws .

To start off, the younger generation didn’t like him . He also sometimes lost all reason when dealing with women . On top of that he was a glutton, greedy, and a cheapskate . Truthfully, many of the villagers couldn’t stand his haughty attitude .

‘Even I might be fit to be the leader . ’

‘In fact, everyone thinks that I would be better than Danny . ’

Cronen had thought about it before . Maybe he got overconfident because his friends flattered him . Maybe it was the dislike he held for Danny that pushed him . Or maybe he was simply rebelling against his father recommending Danny and not him . In any case, once he grew up he decided to believe that he was best suited to be the village mediator .

However, he realized it when he first dealt with managing the village .

There was Danny, who studied books and spoke with merchants in the pursuit of knowledge since childhood .

Then there was himself, who abandoned study to run around the hills and fields with his friends .

His knowledge, his mental capacity—the gap was too large .

Of course, Cronen could still read, write, and perform arithmetic . Even though he was thrown out for slacking off, Bennett had still tied him to a chair and beat some lessons into him . He could do the minimum a village leader should be able to, such as calculate taxes or manage a ledger .

But in the end it was just the minimum . There were more important affairs that the representative of a village should be able to perform . For example, buying goods from merchants at a reasonable price . Also, selling the village’s manufactured goods at a fair price . Or even making connections with people to accomplish the trade .

It all needed things that Cronen wasn’t good at; knowledge, experience, and a quick wit . And yet Danny could do such a complicated job as easily as if he were a shopkeeper .

He saw it himself, his own worthlessness and the difference between his and his brother’s abilities . It crushed him .

Furthermore, Danny didn’t neglect making money either .



He analyzed information that he picked up from peddlers and overhead conversations to anticipate the prices and trends at the marketplace .

He also had other tasks such as regulating their crop planting, anticipating spikes in prices for goods so he could buy them ahead of time, and preparing medicine before a disease hit them—from Cronen’s perspective, Danny’s ability to interpret information was on an entirely different level .

One day, Danny muttered, ‘I should’ve been born to a shopkeeper . ’ He certainly did have the skills for business . It was a pity . That talent was too good to waste simply as the leader of a rural village .   Even Cronen felt it was a wonderful talent from the bottom of his heart .

If he wasn’t the eldest son, or if Bennett hadn’t taught him the responsibilities of being the next village leader, then maybe Danny would have left the village as a merchant long ago . But in reality, he stayed in Tahfu and thought about the village in his own way .

Compared to nearby villages, Tahfu was considered wealthy . They had good farming tools and luxuries like alcohol and sweets . When it really mattered, he procured various medicines in the event that someone fell ill or got injured . Many of the villagers lived through such matters thanks to him .

The villagers had mental and physical reassurance . However, Cronen knew that this abundance was because of Danny . Cronen personally saw him buying the goods with money that he earned .

The elderly who witnessed the change in leadership also knew it . There was a clear improvement in the standard of living since Bennett’s time . But by no means was Bennett incompetent . Danny was simply better at earning money than Bennett was . Cronen accepted Danny’s haughtiness and supported him for the village leader because he knew all of this .

“It’s…impossible for me . ” Cronen slowly shook his head . “I can’t replace my brother . ”

“Why?! You can do it . I can help, and everyone else says you’re better for it—!”

“That’s not the issue . ”

It was simple . He just lacked the ability . It didn’t matter how much Tina helped nor how cooperative the villagers seemed, the gap between himself and Danny couldn’t be closed .

Although, perhaps it would be best if Cronen posed as the village leader for the sake of his mediator role and Danny worked behind the scenes .

However, that would never happen . The reason Danny was still in Tahfu was to become the next village leader . Danny was brought up thinking that he would be the next village leader, and on occasion had accepted it as natural . It was a sense of responsibility, an understanding . The thought that, naturally, he should be the village leader, kept him here .

If that thought were to disappear, what would happen?

In all likelihood, Danny would leave the village . His pride wouldn’t allow him to work in his unsatisfactory younger brother’s shadow . He wasn’t too attached to the village in the first place, and with the connections and skills that he already had, he could easily make a living as a merchant .

Cronen saw no reason for him to stay .

If Danny left, the village would be left with only the unreliable Cronen .

The medicine and the alcohol would eventually be used up . The farming tools would someday need to be replaced .

When that time came, Cronen wouldn’t be able to come up with the money . Tahfu would inevitably fall to the same standard of living as the neighboring villages once again . They wouldn’t be poor, but neither would they be wealthy .

He had to do his best to avoid that—it was the right thing to do .

“I’ve said it countless times . Even if you helped, it wouldn’t be enough!”

“Why… Why do you have to say that!? You don’t know until you try!”

“Because I already know! Danny is much smarter than the two of us put together!!” Cronen grew indescribably irritated, yelling at Tina who contorted her face in frustration .

Tina probably thought that what her husband didn’t like the most was that the man she hated the most was superior to him . It most likely wasn’t just that Danny was superior, but that Cronen himself recognized it and couldn’t stand it . That’s why he lost his temper .

That was what frustrated Cronen the most .

The younger villagers, Tina included, couldn’t understand Danny’s achievements . They didn’t even try .

He was haughty . He worked people too hard . He didn’t do any physical labor .

They were all bad points, but that was just the surface . No one tried to dig any deeper .

Even when Cronen tried to explain that Danny was more capable, they would get swept up in emotion and deny it .

‘Even we could do it if we tried . ’



‘It can’t be that hard . ’

With no experience, no knowledge, and no basis they just let their emotions speak for them . Their childish ignorance made them beyond help . Even Cronen grew tired of it .

And so they just kept mocking Danny and his attitude, unable to comprehend him .

“Haa… That’s enough . This conversation is over . ” Cronen flicked his hand from side to side and ended the conversation without further explanation .

—He was fine being the one to work in the shadows . He’d resolved himself to do so . As the village mediator he would listen to the younger generation’s complaints and act as the intermediary between them and Danny .

He believed that was the best thing he could do for the village .

At the very least, Cronen wanted his beloved wife to understand—although, looking at her extremely displeased expression he lightly sighed again and shook his head .

“Tina… I know that you said that you wouldn’t mind if my brother was killed . But if it came to that, you know that it might not stop with just his life, right? That’s why we need to just peacefully apologize without excuses . ”

“Like I could just do that!”

“You idiot! Do you think you can just end it like that!? Even if that Kei demanded something ridiculous of us, do you think there is anyone in this village that could stand against him!? Even Mandel can’t! Will you take the responsibility!?”

“That’s…”

“If you get it then shut up… I’m going to go apologize to the girl . Danny…no, she probably doesn’t want to even see him, but if she wants an apology from him then I’ll make him… At any rate, we’ll just have to hope that this is resolved peacefully . I wonder if anyone other than us has a room to spare…” Cronen brooded with his hands to his head .

Tina just silently stared, her gaze was full of spite . Then her gaze suddenly slipped past him . “Ah… They’re back . ”

“What?” Cronen spun around . Kei and Mandel were riding through the entrance to the village on their horses . “Back already…”

What perfect timing, he thought and smiled dryly . He shifted his gaze between the two riding in side by side and Tina, sighing .

—If only she could follow Mandel’s example, he wished .

Mandel was a particularly reputable person around here for his expertise with his bow and short sword . He had even performed acts worthy of medals during wartime . He was prominent and held a large influence over everyone in Tahfu, and the one he supported wasn’t Cronen . It was Danny .

He reason was, ‘Danny is better . ’

Of course, this was in comparison to Cronen himself, but that didn’t bother him . Rather, he wanted to cry tears of joy because Mandel was smart enough to understand .

Mandel should have been the one that hated Danny the most—Cronen just wanted Tina to take a lesson from him, since she just allowed her feelings to control her .

But, now isn’t the time for that .  For now, he had to do his best to apologize to Kei without provoking him . Cronen sighed, why am I the only one who has to worry about it…

Even though it was something he decided for himself, he wasn’t sure he could go through with it . He took a quiet, deep breath to calm himself down, “Haa…” And then he lightly sighed again, he’d sighed too many times to count today .

†            †            †

Upon returning to the village, Kei found himself quite confused when he saw Cronen prostrating himself in front of him .

Cronen told him that Danny attacked Aileen in her sleep .

“What…?” Kei’s expression turned dark as if he was about to deliver divine wrath upon them .

Aileen saw it and quickly cut in, “Wait, Kei! Wait!”

According to her, rather than Danny attacking her, he was just in the same room as her when she woke up .

Kei had his doubts about that, but if Aileen didn’t mind, then there was no reason for him to do anything serious about it . Since she wanted to stay somewhere else, they decided to just swap the houses that they were staying in . Jessica was very happy when she heard that Aileen was going to be staying there instead of Kei .

Even though Aileen didn’t mind, when he went to Bennett’s house, Kei put pressure on Danny any time he saw him . Dinner was entertaining; the air was so thick with nerves that Cynthia broke out in a cold sweat .

After dinner he planned to stay up and alert like the night before, but the bed in Bennett’s house was so comfortable that he fell sound asleep even while wearing all of his equipment .

Luckily, the bandits didn’t attack that night .

The next morning Aileen was out in front of Cronen’s house stretching in some baggy pants and a leather vest that made her look like one of the villagers .

“How is it? Are you feeling better?” He asked as he watched .

She just smiled slightly instead of answering him .

Crunch . The scuffing of gravel . A gust of wind blew through and Aileen kicked off the ground .

Step in . Cartwheel . Round off . Double backflip .

Crunch, louder than the other steps, she jumped up . She jumped high enough that Kei almost had to look up .

She did a skillful triple twist and landed perfectly . With a mischievous smile she slowly raised her head . “Not too bad!”

“Is that so . ” Kei nodded with his arms folded, looking satisfied .

Next to him, Tina and Cronen had watched intently, standing stock still and slack jawed .

“Wow! That was great!!”

“Hehehe, right?” Aileen looked proudly at Jessica, who played by her feet . She kept showing off somersaults and backflips to Jessica’s delight .

If she’s this energetic, I suppose she’s fine now .

It was all right to say that she was recovered now . Even if the worst was to come, Kei believed that they would have more options now .

Kei decided that it was time to leave .

Aileen soothed Jessica . She started to cry when she heard that Aileen was leaving . Bennett gave Kei the food and other living necessities that were asked of him .

There were some delays, but they somehow managed to finish their preparations before noon .

“It was short, but thank you for your hospitality, Bennett . ”

Some of the villagers came to the edge of town with the pair to see them off .

Kei looked behind him at the woods . If they went past the grove to the brook and traveled along it to the road, they could follow that east to the town of Satyna . Their final destination was Urvan, the fortress city, but to be on the safe side they decided to take the highway and go through several other towns .

“Kei, it wasn’t long, but I had fun . ”

“Yeah, me too, Mandel . ” He grinned as he shook Mandel’s hand .

“Oh my, it’s sad to part ways,” Bennett said as he stroked his beard and made a very sad expression . He was actually relieved that they were leaving so soon, but he didn’t let that slip out .

Still smiling, Kei replied, “It really is a shame that we’re leaving already . ”

“And about the letter, thank you . I’ll leave it to you . ”

“Of course, it’s an easy task . ”

Bennett rustled around in his pouch and pulled out an envelope as he bowed .

It seemed that his daughter was the wife of a craftsman in Satyna . Since they were already going there, Bennett asked them to deliver the letter . He was originally going to ask a peddler to deliver it, but he likely wanted to scrimp on the fee it would incur .

“I’ll make sure she gets it . It’s Kiska-jou[1], right?”

“She’s not at the age to be called ‘jou’ anymore . ” Bennett laughed merrily .

Next to him, Anka hobbled a few steps forward . “Kei-dono,” she pulled some crystal fragments out of her robes and chanted in a hoarse voice, 『Bondezirojn . La grandaj spiritoj benos vin . 』

The crystals cracked and a gentle breeze blew by . The shards were picked up by the wind and twinkled as they flew into the sky .

Kei thought he heard innocent laughter .

“—The best of luck to you on your travels,” she finished her blessing and looked pleased .

“Thank you, Anka…”

“Thanks, Anka!”

Kei and Aileen bowed before they mounted Sasuke . Kei took the front and Aileen sat behind him, clinging to his back .

With both them, and their supplies Sasuke looked back at Kei as if saying, ‘H-heavy,’ but since they weren’t going at full speed, it shouldn’t be a problem .

“Sorry Sasuke, but please bear with it . ” Kei rubbed Sasuke’s neck .

Sasuke snorted as if sighing and saying, ‘Oh well, I suppose it’ll be fine . ’

Kei spurred his flanks and Sasuke slowly started forward .

“Good bye, everyone!! Stay well!!” Aileen waved and yelled back to the villagers who saw them off .

“Take care of yourselves!” Came their reply .

Clack, clack . They entered the grove and Aileen fixed her position when she lost sight of the villagers .

“They were nice people… weren’t they, Kei?”

“Yeah…”

Kei relaxed his shoulders after he heard her innocent tone .

“Will we be able to come back again?”

After a short while, he quietly answered, “Yeah…”

“Let’s come back again!”

But Kei didn’t listen .

It had been around two days . Two days since they arrived in this world .

With their rest finished, they made their way toward Satyna .

Villagers (Afterword)

This marks the end of the Tahfu arc .

TRANSLATOR’S NOTES

-jou[1]: A respectful way to refer to a young or unmarried lady .



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