THE GRATEFUL GIRL, “I’M CRYING NOT BECAUSE I‘M SAD. UNDERSTAND?”
After resting for half of hour, Asari feels that her body was back in shape. The fear and fatigue that she felt before is now gone, since her mind now was preoccupied in scrutinizing Esuto and not delving in Mountain Bear’s attack.
Now she needs to formulate what her next action is.
Option A. Going back to gather herb from the start. This is suicidal; the Bloodlust Mountain Bear is still up there and day will be dark when she finished
Option B. Retrieve her bag and the content. This is also an unwise option, since you know; the bag is near the Mountain Bear the Terrible that maybe hungry and will gladly devour a human or two.
Option C. Go to village and report this situation. As Mountain Bear is bad news because there are possibilities it could descent to village or attacking unwary people that goes outside village, Asari needs to report this her father and Village Councilmen.
Yup, the option C was the best action she could take now. But before that, Asari needs to confirm something.
“Excuse me for my rudeness, but is Mister intending to travel to a particular destination?”
The purpose of this tailored question was that if Esuto’s destination was in different direction from Asari’s village that means she will part with him. If so, then Asari needs to dig out more information from him, like where he lives or what is job. This was not because Asari is curious, surely not you jest… but because she needs that information so she can pay back her favor for his help someday.
Orena Culture is a firm believer of a principle: Equivalent Exchange. If you get something from someone, you give something back in equal value or greater. So the Culture is all big about honor, favor, and makes up things even (read: revenge), so was also Asari.
“Is true that I in a travel. But I had no destination. My gathering is somewhere else. I try to find them but I lost in forest for a long time. I don’t know by precise where this is. Is Asari living near here or also in travel?”
This man was too suave, to ask where her home is in their first meeting. Such audacity. Fantasy aside, it means Asari could help him by showing directions to him. But first, the correct response would be…
“That was true, Mister. There is a humble village called Okuto just two hour shy from his place. This is the village where I lived in. Is this village name, known to Mister?”
“It sad, but no.”
Asari is in a little shocked with Esuto’s answer. She doesn’t think her village lack recognition.
I knew it! Our village needs something to make it memorable like strange leaning tower or mysterious large stone formation. Asari thoughts.
“Hmm… Maybe Asari can take me there?”
Waaaaa… Esuto is really daring. To ask a girl he just met today to bring him right to her house immediately.
Is he wants to meet her father and said, 「It maybe suddenly, but I will take this girl hand and make her mine.」
He makes her already blushing face becoming redder to the max.
In other hand, as he was a stranger, Asari can’t just bring him to the village. What if he was actually a wanted criminal, a ruthless bandit, or a foreign spy?
Nah… Asari maiden intuition said that he was a nice good looking man, so it’s all right. He also said he was looking for his groups, maybe he could find it in the village as Okuto Village had an inn where travelers frequently stayed. Also he could be additional witness in reporting the Mountain Bear problem, and maybe explain to her father why she didn’t bring the medicinal herbs.
Asari wanted to praise her brilliant mind. By bringing Esuto to her village she solved the problem of Mountain Bear attack, lack of medicinal herbs, repaying favor, and her romance life. Maybe the last one is not true.
Asari answers while grinning incessantly.
“If Mister takes this road for two days then Mister will arrive at Mining City Oka.”
Asari pointed at one of the direction when they arrived at the riverside road junction.
“This is the road to Okuto Village. If Mister keep walking then Mister will arrived at Fortress City Orisa at Dusk Pass after 6 day.”
Asari pointed at another direction.
“The road we take before leads to a place named Charcoal Hut in the middle of Forest. There are also many small roads and paths that go into the mountain but it were seldom used.”
Asari then turn her face at Esuto with an expression that says, 「How was it? I’m really knowledgeable right?」
Never underestimate the girl who spends 2 weeks to memorize maps in various travelers’ guide books as a preparation for the day she goes travelling (or run away from home).
Why she told Esuto about the direction of these two major cities? So that maybe he recognized one of them. These cities are way more famous than her village.
“Is that so? Asari sure know many things”
Praise me more! Well, no… what she means is that she feels happy that she could help him.
“Are Mister now had understanding about Mister current location?”
“Sorry, but I never hear the two cities name before.”
“Eeee? Strange. If Mister are in this location, Mister should have passed one of the two cities.”
Asari was of course confused, because these two cities was located at each end of Ekoli River Valley, Fortress City Orisa at Dusk Pass in the western end of Valley where Ekoli River began and Mining City Oka near at the eastern end of the valley where Ekoli River meets Great Erai River. The highways that run along both riverside of Ekoli River meet at these two cities.
“I don’t come from the two cities. I come from Mountain Pass.”
Esuto pointed at the Mountain.
“In this early spring?”
“Yes. Why, is there a problem?”
Hearing this answer, Asari became speechless.
Although it is a fact that the always white peak Horas Mountains Range had several Passes, not only it is very rugged and unfriendly, most of it was covered in deep snow all year long, except for several good days in the Summer.
That’s why only the passes were only used by travelers, merchants, or couriers that needs to cut their travelling time to reach the other side of Horas Mountains. But they only dare to travel in the Summer when the weather in the Mountains is more traveler friendly.
However, now in front of her is a man who claims that he came through the Mountain Pass in early Spring where the mountain’s weather was as fickle as a maiden heart that was left behind by her lover. There is a reason why aside from Dusk Pass, the other passes in Horas Mountains had names like Death Pass, Cruel Ice Pass, Eternal Snow Pass, or Pass of No Hope. Asari don’t know what to call Esuto and his companies, the distinction between brave, reckless, or just plain stupid is very thin. He wasn’t a vagrant or justice’s fugitive right? Doesn’t look like it.
“So what Mister are planning to do?”
“Hmm... For now, I am tired after walk in Forest for long time. Maybe I find place to rest, had good food and to sleep. Things that happen next I think at later time.”
“Is that so.”
Asari thought that for someone who were separated from his group, lost his way, and encountering dangerous situation, Esuto is too untroubled. He looked like he didn’t pay attention or bothered by his condition. Asari thought that most people will either more panic or anxious if suddenly happened to find themselves in unfamiliar lands or situations. Either this came from his experience as traveler or it was just his carefree personality.
But she prefers to not question about this further as doing these might be rude. Also, she preferred to interrogate, ehm, asking politely about that, while sitting in a comfortable room and sipping a relaxing tisane than standing at a road junction in the middle of nowhere.
“Let us continues our travel Mister Esuto. To reach Okuto Village we need to walk for at least 2 hours.”
On their way back to the village, Asari and Esuto didn’t encounter any difficulty or any traveler for that matter. As Ekoli River was wide and lack strong torrent and the fact that most settlement were near the river, so river transportation was popular. That’s why most traveler and merchant use boat to travel in Ekoli Valley and the road seldom used except for horse based messenger.
As there seldom people in the road, Asari really hope that no Mountain Bear would follow them to the main road. Talking about Mountain Bear…
“Can I ask something Mister?”
“Of course, what?”
“What did Mister do to the Mountain Bear? It seems the Mountain Bear is in pain so that it didn’t gave pursue after me and Mister take our chance to flee.”
Asari really curious with what Esuto does to the Bear. Is it a spell, a magic tool, or just a clever trick?
“Bear? Bear…? … Oh Bear? You mean the ‘Terekano’ before?”
Esuto gave impressions that he just understands the meaning of the word ‘Bear’. Did they call the Mountain Bear with ‘Terekano’ in his home’s dialect? Asari wondered.
“What I do is drive it out with this thing.”
Esuto took out a liquid filled small glass cylinder with a small tube head with a small hole.
“What is this?”
Asari eyes were sparkling. She really likes novelties things.
“This is a 「Capsaicum Spray」.”
Asari had difficulties pronouncing the foreign sounding words.
“Aaaa.. hmmm… This tube has a liquid If we press this then the liquid is come out from the hole as mist. If it gets in touch with skin, eye, nose, or mouth, it will cause a great pain and burning like feeling.”
Esuto try to explain how the strange thing works.
Esuto aim at the empty road side and then press the 「Spray」 small top to create a small sized mist that then were dispersed downwind.
The curious Asari found this thing perplexing as she never read about the mechanism that turns liquid into mist. The same curiosity also make her trying to sniff a little of the small remaining suspended mist, and abruptly her nose and eyes became aching and watering.
「Ah… so that how it feels.」 Asari sympathize with the Bears misery.
The surprised Esuto then was rummaging his bag, while showing pitying expression. He then took out what looks like a small rectangle white looking cloth and offer it to Asari.
She used it to wipe her tears and runny nose. Although it looks like a cloth Asari feels that the texture is more similar to paper but much softer and also is moist with what looks like a perfumed liquid. What kind of cloth or paper is this? What kind of terrible liquid inside the 「spray」? Once again Esuto showed a strange thing that she hasn’t meet or read about before.
With a still teary eyes and watery nose, Asari was sulking and complaining,
“The Thing is dangerous.”
“It is dangerous. Why put the face in it? Is it more better now?”
Replied Esuto while putting a very complex expression, a strange mix between compassion and amusing.
Asari couldn’t retort Esuto and became ashamed of her mistake. If there were anyone that saw her now, they will get overwhelmed by an aura that compels people to feel pity. Esuto seems to have no immunity to this aura.
After considering for a while, Esuto while half sighing, said,
“To Asari. A gift.”
He offer the 「spray」 to Asari who quickly seize it and soon her expression get brighter nd brighter: if we just ignore the snot from her nose and teary red eyes.
“Thank you Mister. Mister are forgiven.”
“Just don’t put the face in it again.”
“Of course. Even mudfish will not get hooked for the second time.”
Asari is in high spirits while thinking about using this 「spray」 to pay back the people that had harassed her before. Although, as an Orena People who the cultural tenet is Equivalent Exchange, paying someone back in equal or more is an essential obligation. So it’s not like she want to do it, don’t misunderstand!
Asari’s nose and eyes had back to normal when they are near Okuto Village entrance. Asari could see a group of men assembling in the village entrance way, Asari’s father Ewanu were also with them. The men were wielding various weapons. Sword, spear, large axe, bow and crossbow. Some were also wear leather or metal armor.
Asari realized that after seeing this view, Esuto suddenly became cautious. His right hand gripped his sword hilt tightly. Asari put her hand in front Esuto and shook her head, seeing this Esuto released his grip and became more eased.
Asari then was running ahead while waving her hand and screaming, “FATHER!” as she dash to her father’s embrace. She doesn’t know why, her eyes were filled with tears again, but this time aws not because Esuto’s strange liquid.
“Asari! Praise God. Are you all right? Not hurt? Father just receive message that someone saw Mountain Bear in the forest near the place you went this morning. Father was fear for your safety.”
Asari quickly deduced the reason why the village men were gathering. They were escorting her father to find her in the Forest.
Asari crying in her father’s chest that patting her head softly. Even if Asari didn’t say anything, Ewanu will understand. Such was the strong link between this pair of father-daughter.
“It’s fine. No need to cry. Here is safe.”
Ewanu say gently, comforting her daughter.
After Asari (at least she tries) stopped her sobbing, Ewanu and the villagers catched sight of Esuto and became wary of him. After all, you must be cautious to stranger. Asari that felt the tense atmosphere then speak (while still had a couple snivel here and there, it can’t be helped, give the girl a break will ya).
“Father let me introduce you… This is Mister Esuto. He is someone who had help Asari from the predicament. Mister Esuto, let me introduce you. This is my father.”
“Permission to introducing myself. My Name is Esuto. I am in a travel and unexpectedly meet and give help.”
Ewanu then cross his hand in front his stomach and lowering his body.
“My name is Ewanu di Rogi. I give my humble gratitude to you, Mister, for saving my precious daughter even if Mister was in the middle of a journey. This favor can’t be repaid even for a life time.“
“Huh? Eehhh... No need? Uuhhmm... the girl? Asari? She also help me. Uh... Same?”
“Not without respect, but what are Mister had planned for next? Are Mister in a urgent mission and must quickly resume the journey or Mister would take a rest tonight?”
“Hmm… No I think? My travel is no hurry. I think to find a place to sleep his night. Like a sleeping shop, I had money, I think.”
“If Mister contented with it, may I had the privilege to provide the needed accommodation for the night in my meager house.”
“Hah? Uh… Thank you for the good intention?”
“No need for thanks Mister. Mister had saved my greatest treasure, but only this meaningless thing that I can give for repaying the great favor Mister had given to me. I beg your pardon for this Mister.”
Esuto seems overwhelmed (or just plainly confused).
He just doesn’t know, Orena People really take Repaying Favor SERIOUSLY.
By the way, Asari was happy that her father acknowledges Esuto. That was one hurdle passed. But just leave her, ignore, ignore, nothing to seen here.