Chapter 42: On the Day of Harvest Festival
A few day passed after Rio and co returned to the village from the royal capital.
Now that they greeted the last days of autumn, the village was celebrating it with a harvest festival.
Harvest festivals were an expression of gratitude for the abundant harvest in that year, and to wish for abundant harvests in the next year.
Though the daily lives of the villagers were always busy, only for that day, they were not working.
In the plaza, the villagers were gathering to dance a dance, sing a song, eat a meal, and drink sake in the daytime.
Since the kitchen in Yuba’s house was the vastest in the village, every year, during that time, it was used by the gathering of the women who took pride in their cooking, in the village.
Even then, some of the women were moving quickly to do the preliminary preparations.
Rio’s figure was also amongst them.
The kitchen was a woman’s battlefield; though normally men couldn’t enter the kitchen, as Rio’s cooking ability was certified by Yuba and Ruri, they gave an exception for him.
Rio was cooking dishes that wasn’t usually eaten in that region.
Sayo and Ruri were in his vicinity to learn the art of cooking from Rio.
Those dishes were apple pie and meat pie.
Since the pie batter* was already made, they were currently making the filling.
For the apple pie, they were using the winter apples gathered in the village, and using the village’s cattle for the meat pie.
When thinking about how to make it easier for the villagers to cook apple pie later, it [winter apples] matched well with it, as sugar was a high-quality item and he didn’t use butter, as they didn’t know how to make it in that region.
By mixing a little bit of spice, gathered in this region, Rio cooked the winter apples till they become mushy.
「It smells really delicious. Rio really does know many different dishes」
「Yeah, it looks delicious. Rio-sama is amazing! 」
Ruri and Sayo were smiling widely, as their noses twitched, when they sniffed the faint amount of sweet aroma drifting in the room.
He then became embarrassed by such praise from the girls, and smiled as if trying to hide it, while continuing the cooking.
He placed the filling on top of the already laid pie batter, then enclosed it with another pie batter on top of it.
He then baked it in the pot.
As they had to also make the meat pies, proportional to the number of people, he couldn’t take a break yet.
They stopped cooking two hours after that, and joined the festival, bringing along their dishes, including the ones made by Rio.
Thus it enhanced the atmosphere of the festival and brought it to completion.
Rio sat at the edge of the plaza, and was enjoying a conversation, with liquor in one hand, along with Dora and Ume.
Though it didn’t cause out of place commotion, he was looking at the young men of the village who were happily dancing and singing, while he had his fill of the sake and meals.
「Nevertheless, it’s almost 2 month since Rio came to this village. Time sure passes quickly, right?」
「It sure does. It already feels natural to see you in this village」
Though 2 month had yet to pass since he came to this village, for Dora and Ume, Rio already one of the villagers.
「I’m also really grateful that everyone is taking good care of me」
While deeply moved by their words, Rio smiled and said his gratitude to Dora and Ume.
「What, it’s only natural you know. You see, you’re already ――」
「O~y, Dora！ Come here for a while! 」
When Dora was about to say something, Someone called to him.
「Oops, I was just called. Well, actually we’re the ones who’s indebted to you. Not to mention about that water something. Well then, I’ll be off for a while.」
With his bright smile trademark, Dora left that place with light gait.
「As he says, Rio. The livelihood in this village has improved little by little thanks to you, Rio. Not to mention about that aromatic water」
Rio smiled lightly, as to reply to Ume who said those words while looking at Dora’s back.
「Nevertheless, when I think that Rio will leave this village sooner or later, I’ll feel empty after that」
「That’s …… Eh……」
The matter of Rio leaving the village was already conveyed to the villagers from the very beginning.
Though he already met many people and went to many different places, when it came to the time to leave, it was when the atmosphere easily became solemn.
What kind of expression he should put on at that kind of time? Rio, who was still unable to find the right way to express it, just gave a vague smile.
「Furthermore amongst the young girls in this village, some of them have really fallen in love with you. It’ll be a huge blow to those girls, right?」
Rio was slightly dumbfounded and lost his words.
While grinning Ume sent a sidelong gaze to the dumbfounded Rio.
「Rio, there’s someone you like, right?」
Rio’s dumbfounded state continued on hearing those words.
He was surprised that Ume guessed right, the secret he kept tightly in his heart.
「Your face’s saying [How do you know that?], right. Well, let’s just say that it’s a woman’s intuition」
「Woman’s ………. Intuition？」
Rio said that with a slightly puzzled tone.
There really are such things.
「Ha~h, Rio really is lacking in understanding a woman’s heart in that way, huh」
Somehow guessing what Rio was thinking right then, Ume could only sigh in astonishment.
Rio smiled wryly as he was unable to retort Ume’s words.
「I’m sure that those girls also somehow perceive that. They have no chance at victory from the very beginning. There’s also the fact that Rio will leave the village sooner or later」
In rural places where the majority of them only did a simple chores was a difficult place for a woman to spend their whole life alone; they’d find a man who would support them for life from amongst the young men in the village.
They couldn’t go after an ideal married life forever.
That was the only thing they must avoid at all cost.
Thus, a skill at sensing whether or not a man was interested in them was an indispensable for women.
They were looking at the reality .
If their love didn’t come true, they’d stop pursuing it as soon as possible.
「That’s why, even if they’re excessively pampering you, no one’s seriously pursuing you」
Ume’s words went on.
「Still, since some of them generously welcoming wooing after you, that’s just an appeal and nothing more」
「H-Ha~……」 [TL : YEAH, TAKE THAT RIO; RIAJUU JUST EXPLODE!!!!]
Rio was bewildered while having a slightly cramped expression.
Somehow the village girls’ love circumstances were more severe than what he expected.
「Well, though amongst them, some just can’t suppress their feeling …… 」
Ume said that, as if adding one thing after another, while letting out a lonely smile.
Noticing that change in her expression, Rio expression become serious again.
「I think you already noticed Sayo’s feelings, right？」
And Ume suddenly mentioned a name, without any hesitation.
「EH? Erm, no, we ………. 」
Even while showing a bewildered expression, Rio still replied shortly.
With the other village girls only displaying an attitude as if they were interested in him, Sayo was the only one who looked like she wanted to tell Rio about her feeling so many times.
Though the person herself desperately tried to hide her feelings, she was unable to hide it skillfully, like the other girls.
Thus, as expected, even Rio had slightly noticed her feelings.
Though he was unable to understand why she thought that way.
「That girl received a very important present from you」
Ume referenced the present he gave to Sayo a few days ago.
That was right, a few days ago when they were touring around the royal capital, he presented a hairpin to Sayo.
If it was the usual Rio, he wouldn’t do such an action that would cause the thoughtless misunderstanding that he fancied the other party.
But, only at that time, due to the sales talk of the female shopkeeper, who was skillfully controlling the atmosphere, which cause him make an exceptional behaviour.
Though Rio himself wasn’t thinking too deeply about such an action, could he really not buy a present without reading the atmosphere?.
That was what he thought.
「It’s not like I’ll blame you for giving a present to that girl. Saying that kind of thing is like denying the relationships between humans*. I won’t be mad if you’re not toying with her feelings」
Rio was speechless when he heard what Ume just said.
「But, that girl is a bit too pure, right. After her parents passed away too early, she lived with her only brother. Since Shin is overprotective, that might be a misfortune for Sayo, as her mentality is a little immature」
With that said, the side of being realistic regarding the marriage, and the philosophy of love between man and woman, was something that was originally taught by parents to their child.
Sayo, whose mother passed away, didn’t have anyone to teach that. She was taught by the adult women in her surroundings but, she hesitated to asked further with her brother Shin by her side.
The result of that was Sayo became a pure hearted girl who never even once had the slightest touch of love between men and women.
Thus, one day she just fell in love at the first sight of Rio, who came from another place, and still continued with her feelings.
「Spare that girl and don’t toy around with her feelings. I know that you won’t do something like that to that girl though, somehow I become too medlesome with your affair 」
Ume said that while smiling wryly.
「Well, if you’re thinking of continuing to live in this village, dating that girl is extremely welcome. Though you’ll be receive the usual abusive language, even Shin won’t reject it. Or rather, it won’t be strange if he’s actually assisting Sayo from behind」
Rio responded with a vague smile to her words.
Rio would leave the village sooner or later.
That was an absolute fact that would never change.
That was why, in that village there was no future where Rio lived together with Sayo.
[Maybe it’s better to tell her that fact soon.]
When he was just about to say what he thought indirectly, at that time —–.
Rio felt that there were a few people that somehow entered the magical barrier of the village.
Their number was ten.
They had no intention of hiding their presence, nor did he feel hostility from them.
There were no villagers left in the village.
In that case, they were outsiders.
「…… excuse me. I’ll leave you for a while」
Rio rose from his seat and apologizes to Ume.
Ume didn’t hold him back when he seemingly went to pick a flower.
Rio was walking in the direction that people entered the village from.
In that place were 10 people.
Looking at their movements, each one of them wasn’t an ordinary one.
Especially the two at the lead, who wore expensive clothing; he knew their ability towered above the rest.
His weapon was inside the item box.
There would be some time lag when he picked it up.
Though he couldn’t feel hostile intent from the other side, it was better than being sorry.
「Could you tell me your bussiness in this village？」
Somehow even his opponent noticed that Rio wasn’t an ordinary person too which made them a little restless.
But, the only two at the front gave a little different reaction.
The elderly person whose appearance was completely like a boulder[robust], the female who was around that man’s age too, with a calm and collected air was staring intently at Rio and their body was shivering.
「C-Could it be ……. Rio-sama? You’re Rio-sama right？」
「Eh, AH, yeah …….. 」
He was truly shocked when a strange old man suddenly called his name with “-Sama” attached to it while looking dumbfoundedly at him.
「OOH！ As I thought! 」
And then, that man suddenly said something, with a tone as if he was overcome by some kind of emotion.
Without understanding the situation, Rio let out a bewildered voice.
He have no recollection of meeting with the people in front of him.
Since Rio had mostly stayed in the village after he came to the kingdom, he only remember the face of someone who he met at that place.
「My deepest apologize. Though I’ve no recollection of meeting you before, who might you be? 」
With a calm and reserved tone, Rio tried to make sure of the identity of the other side.
The first man was groaning a little in admiration, when he sensed Rio’s calm and reserved tone, which was unsuitable for that age.
「How impolite of me！ My name is Saga Gouki! This one is my wife, Saga Kayoko. The people behind are my subordinates」
The man called Gouki introduced his companions with a friendly tone.
His subordinates knelt with one knee on the ground, without worrying about dirtying their garments.
That was the etiquette of a retainer.
Rio was dumbfounded while staring at them.
As expected, even Rio was unable to follow that all too sudden development.
But, he was sure that kneeling that way was uncomfortable.
「Please quickly raise yourself, as your clothes will be dirty if you keep on kneeling」
Rio said that with a troubled expression.
With a hestitating tone, those men kept kneeling respectfully in that place.
「Please do so, since I want to ask the situation first. Anyway, let’s change the location」
Thus, Rio said that without an sense of urgency in his tone.
「…… Haa, then, please excuse our discourtesy」
Maybe because he understand Rio’s intention, Gouki nodded once and those men rose from the place where they knelt.
「Then, please follow me」
After saying that, Rio guiding them to the edge of the plaza and called out to Yuba.
When she looked at Gouki’s party, her eyes opened wide and —-.
「As I thought, Gouki-dono immediately came to this village …… 」
She said that with bitter smile on her face.
「Long time no see, Yuba-dono. Though I apologise for causing a disturbance, as it look like you’re in the middle of a good harvest festival」
「Don’t worry since it’s almost calmed down」
From the subject of their conversation, those two are somehow an old friends.
「Anyway, let’s go to our house for the time being. I’ll tell the story in that place」
「It’s nothing, as I’m the one who called you to come to this place. Then, please follow me. You’re coming with us too, Rio」
He was yet to understand the situation but, Rio abided Yuba’s words as he judged that it wasn’t a trivial matter.