|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
Eren’s POV. It takes place around chapter 7 and 8.
Spoiler for Vampire Princess. Please read the footnote for clarification.
My name is Eren. My father is Aroldo Baresi, the village chief of the western pioneer village here. So, officially my name is Eren Baresi.
Speaking of official names, apparently, this village’s official name is ‘Old Domiziano Fief Western Reclamation Village,’ but… everyone thought it was too long. So we simply called it the western village or the west pioneer village. Incidentally, Domiziano seemed to be the name of the lord who ruled this area in the past.
However, fiefdoms and nobles like that no longer exist today. In total, there were five villages in the area; the south, the north, the west, the east, and the center that also served as a relay station, and we all were under the direct control of the state—the Graviol Empire, a super large nation that governed the eastern part of the continent.
Back when I was a kid and asked why the previous lord had disappeared, they only told me that he was punished for being a bad lord, and didn’t disclose further details.
Now that I was a little older, I learned from the stories around me that the real reason was that the lord had sent an army to the vast Tenebrae Nemus on his own initiative to expand his domain 20 years before I was born.
Needless to say, thousands of soldiers were wiped out overnight as a result.
In addition, the Lord of the Forest—the Golden Dragon King—was furious. His roar shook the ground so far reaching the horizon as he flew off to the sky, instantly obliterating the town and the castle the lord lived, along with all the neighboring lords and citizens who had cooperated with the military campaign, and as a result, the whole area quickly became a scorched earth where not a blade of grass grew.
When his uncontrollable anger was about to turn to the mainland Graviol Empire, the already retired grandmother of the current imperial king —also known as the Grand Founder Imperial Queen or the Imperial Mother— took it upon herself to talk with the Lord of the Forest (actually, the rumors branched here, with some said that she spoke with the Divine Demon while some others said she spoke with the God Emperor herself) and somehow managed to avert the worst of the situation… However, that was the last time anyone had ever seen her. Whatever happened to her, she had sacrificed herself for our country… And that was how the stories always ended.
And for that reason, the name Domiziano had always been avoided in these lands.
However, there was an official verdict from the Cardinal Rose Superempire (a unifying continental state reigning over the empire) that said “Tenebrae Nemus is a free land to explore as long as you don’t bring in national interests,” and fearless adventurers and such still entered the forest nonchalantly, and the people who were stripped of their homes from the Golden Dragon King’s wrath also made their living from the forest and made settlements on the outskirts of the forest, and so far our village also didn’t suffer any great damage.
Therefore, while indeed the land was once scorched barren earth, it still belonged to the emperor… So, a few years later, settlements started with some trepidation, and when they judged that there were no problems with settling in, full-fledged settlement villages were established— one of them was the western pioneer village, the closest to Tenebrae Nemus, where I lived, that was built 16 years ago. Incidentally, it was also the newest and the smallest of the five.
It was a small village, so my father, the village head, and my mother, his assistant, were very busy all year round. My two older brothers were also treated as fully adult members of the village from a young age and they had been helping out in the fields from morning to evening.
As the youngest, I occasionally helped my parents when they were busy or worked in the fields with them, but I usually babysit the little children. There were no girls in the village who were my age, so the adults treat me as the leader of the little ones —and while that sounded nice and all, that meant they treated me as if I was the same age as the kids— while the kids treated me as their dependable older sister— for five-year-olds, an 11 year old girl was basically an adult anyway.
Not that I hated it, but I didn’t feel comfortable being around the adults and the children because of that. Bruno, the only boy in the village who was the same age as me, was elated to have the little brats treat him like a respectable older brother, but he’s basically a snotty brat on the inside, so he’s a lost cause.
That was why I always felt inadequate. If possible, I wanted a friend who was my equal. In my heart, I always wished to have a best friend around the same age with whom I could talk about anything. —And, as if to respond to that wish, one day a girl unexpectedly appeared in my life.
“Eren, this is Miss Jill, the disciple of the Sage of the Forest. She is eleven years old like you, so I think you will be good friends. I would like you to take Miss Jill with you and show her around the village.”
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My father introduced me to a slender, tall girl wearing a robe over her head.
The same age! Those words made my eyes light up. Someone I’ve been waiting for. Maybe she’ll become my friend!
Trying to hold down the loud pounding in my chest from excitement, I greeted Jill. “Nice to meet you, Lady Jill. My name is Eren.”
Despite my elation, however, the person I was talking to was a disciple of the Sage of the Forest, a person respected by my father as well as the other village chiefs (well, the gossipy ones like to call her the Witch of the Forest instead, though). I tried to be as polite as possible and lowered my head so that I didn’t come off as rude.
And then, the inexplicably clear voice, like a harp played by a minstrel, came from under the hood, taking me by surprise. “Nice to meet you too, I’m Jill. —Aah, you don’t need to add any honorifics. I’d appreciate it if you could talk to me normally.”
For a moment, I thought heaven whispered to my ears… Inwardly, I hopped around and applauded, knowing that she treated me casually, so I mended my manner of speech and confirmed it with Jill.
“R-, right… Yeah! You’re right, we’re friends after all!”
“Indeed. We are already friends, aren’t we.”
After that, my father urged us to go for a walk in the village.
“What is that?”
“That used to be a bean field, but the land is too infertile now, so we’re letting it be.”
“Hmm. So, you don’t use the same field every year?”
“Well, the yields get smaller and smaller after two, three years, so we abandon old plots of land and plow a new field every year.”
“I see. I knew it, the fertilizing and land improvement technologies still have a lot to desire.”
Jill asked me many questions as we walked. While I answered her questions, I also asked her about life in the forest, and then we also talked about fairy tales that we both knew.
All the stories Jill told me were surprisingly new, and she knew a lot of very difficult things on top of that! I wasn’t sloppy with my study since my mother had been teaching me for my future, but even then I was no match for her (although, I found that she somehow lacked very basic common sense, like she didn’t know the fact that there were 366 days in a year or the names of the months). Listening to her, I reflected on myself. I really need to study more!
At the same time, I almost couldn’t believe I was having such a dreamy time where I could talk about a lot of things with a friend of my own age. This happy feeling— right, this relationship between us had to be what they called best friends!
And with that, Jill and I became best friends.
“Hey, Jill, why do you keep your hood up all the time anyway?”
What was bugging me was that Jill had been hiding her face from the beginning. Actually, I had been catching glimpses of her beautiful facial lines, her cherry-like lips, and her smooth nose, so I thought— She must be really pretty under her hood!! Fragments of her beautiful face kept teasing me, and I couldn’t help but be curious.
That was why I gathered the courage to ask her, but then Jill put her hands on her hood in consternation. “It’s the custom of the witches. You’re not supposed to show your face to people without permission until you become a full-fledged witch.” She sounded guilty with her answer.
I am sure you’re aware, but the first half of this chapter is full of spoilers for Vampire Princess. Unfortunately, all of the terms used here haven’t showed up in the published chapters of that series (as of the writing of this note), so I took the liberty to temporarily use my own translated terms. Please remind me to change them accordingly when the proper chapters are out.
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Another thing of note. It is easy to mix the word empire for Graviol Empire and the imperial kingdom for Livitium Imperial Kingdom. However, from this point on, I will make an extra effort to separate the two as much as I can. The former uses 帝国 (teikoku) i.e the Roman empire, while the former, for those sensitive to theories, uses 皇国 (koukoku), the term unique to address Japan or the Japanese empire. Now as a Japanese linguistic nerd, I could go on and on about the origins and the difference of the two vocabularies, but just know that they are completely different in meaning— To grossly simplify it, koukoku implies the involvement of god(s) in the founding of the nation.