Chapter 8: One Day During Winter
Winter in the Kaldia domain is very cold. Although the weather is mild from spring through autumn, since we’re south of the highest mountain range here, the Amon Nor Mountains, temperatures fall sharply during winter. Especially to the northeast, the river will freeze over as well.
Since the Kaldia domain runs longer east to west, it’s usually split into the southwestern and northeastern sections, and the villages are concentrated more in the southwestern section where there are many gently rolling hills.
In the northeast there are many small lakes and rivers, but right now there’s an issue of how to best make use of them. In the past, it seems that people were able to fish successfully here, but because of father’s despotic policies, forcing people to work in the fields, currently the northeast is mostly pristine, untouched land.
Since Earl Terejia didn’t want to just leave this land alone, he recently decided to try and do something with it, but just building up entire villages seems to be difficult. Since the northeast is closer to the mountains, many beasts will be coming down from the mountains during the winter, taking that into consideration it’s a difficult location for people to be living in.
“During winter, Rashiok sure is energetic.”
During my daily routine of walking Rashiok, Kamil smiled while he applied a hot bottle of tea to his cheek. I wonder if it was really that fun to sink his feet into the snow, Rashiok was flying about and jumping around on the hillside that had become completely covered in snow. Since the snow snakes which are his main source of food hibernate during the winter, I wonder if that causes him to be the most active during the winter.
The snow that had been falling for the past two days was so soft and smooth, that it was difficult to walk. The woolen cloak I have to wear to protect against the cold is also annoying. It was already rather heavy since it reached all the way down to my knees, but since water from the snow was getting caught in the hems it became even heavier.
It’s good that Rashiok seemed to be having so much fun, but today was cloudy and dim and the ground was slippery, and I’m really fed up with this biting cold. It’s the first time since I’ve reincarnated that I’ve experienced the winter outside, and I quickly assessed that I wasn’t going to get accustomed to this.
Since the grain had been harvested, there was nothing other than the mansion and barracks to obstruct my vision, and the snow-covered, silent hills created quite the lonesome scenery. While chasing Rashiok and creasing my eyebrows because my eyes were smarting from the cold, Kamil would occasionally stop me from time to time if it seemed like I was about to accidentally leave the area under direct control. Because there was no signs or marks, it was hard to keep good track of distance.
“It’s fine to walk Rashiok for a little bit more. When we return, Nathan should have boiled eggs and soup prepared for us.”
Reflexively I had complained a little about the cold to Kamil. As the son of a large merchant that had been to many other countries, he’s surprisingly good at calming people down. I feel it must be the merchant blood in him.
It’s very regrettable that his father the merchant has already passed away. That’s because Arxians with information on other cultures are few and far between. It would have been nice if I could have heard stories about other countries as well, is what I thought, but there’s no helping it. Since Kamil had been too young at the time, it seems that he’s forgotten most of the stories about other countries. What bad luck.
“There’s even boiled eggs, eh. How luxurious.”
“It seems like Claria village bought some chickens from the Henznaut domain this year. If they breed them successfully, you’ll be able to have boiled eggs more often next year.”
“Ahh, I see.”
From time to time, Kamil was also able to share information with me that I did not know. He had originally been assigned to me from the domain’s army in order to help me take care of Rashiok and be my personal bodyguard, and after all this time being with him it seems that he’s actually a nice guy after all. Maybe it’s because he’s an excellent conversationalist, good at making idle chatter and gossip.
In the Jugfena region, boiled eggs are supposed to represent providence, so they were usually supposed to be eaten on religious holidays. Unfortunately, the Kaldia domain has currently lost most of its knowledge on livestock breeding due to my father’s fault.
We had been relying on imports from other domains up until now, but this year, starting with chickens, we were beginning to re-establish our own supply of livestock. The plan for next year is to begin seeing what fish we can gather from the rivers and lakes in the northeast. The other project is to start seeing if we can begin to have the people in our domain raise crops other than grains.
“……Charlie? Did you start praying all of a sudden or something?”
“It’s because I was welcoming the chickens that are being imported to my domain. Is that so strange?”
“Ahh, I guess it’s fine. Charlie must be very pious.”
I shrugged in response to Kamil’s eyes which still had some wondering to them. Prayer, is usually supposed to be offered in respect to the gods, but the only one I’m thankful to is Earl Terejia. Unlike what Kamil said, I’m actually not a devout member of the Ar Xia church. After all, I don’t believe in anything like the existence of gods at all.
I had only stopped to think for a few seconds, but before I realized it Rashiok had already gotten several meters ahead of me. I hurriedly ran to catch up. Even if Rashiok can be a bit errant, he’s pretty smart and can find his way back to the mansion on his own, but if we returned to the mansion without him we would certainly be lectured by the earl.
Without paying heed to us, Rashiok who had been playing around suddenly stopped. He plunged his nose into the snow, and was sniffing something. I wonder what he could have found. Then, he suddenly retreated and headed towards us while barking furiously, running through the snow with amazing momentum.
“I wonder what happened.”
“Maybe he’s found something that can be food? On a hunt before, I’ve seen the ground move like that once, it had been a rizer.”
Kamil’s voice suddenly became greatly frenzied. Well, that’s to be expected. The rizer is said to be closer related to a mouse than a mole, and it’s a type of gigantic lizard that lives underground. It’s also considered extremely valuable both as food, and as materials for creating weapons and armor.
“Come to think of it, unluckily you weren’t there with me at that time. Because of that, two rizers got away last time.”
“Two escaped!? What a waste!!”
“How do you expect me to catch a lizard that’s even bigger than I am? With my strength, I couldn’t even pierce one with a spear.”
“Well, that’s true, but……”
While we were busy arguing, Rashiok had been single-mindedly digging in the snow. Without hesitation, I used my hands which were covered in leather gloves to begin digging too. At seeing this, Kamil said “something like a noble girl digging around in the snow……” but right now it’s getting to the good part, so I can’t stop. Besides, no matter where you look in Arxia, where would you find a noble that’s eaten spiders before?
After he joined me as well in digging together with Rashiok, progress went pretty fast. The soil was dug up in a few minutes, and the frozen earth beneath that took another several minutes. Then, my leather gloves touched the hard scales of a hibernating rizer.
We dug up all around it until we could see all of it, and carefully examined our prey.
“……It’s pretty big. I think it’s about six feet long.”
“Let’s kill it now that we’ve dug it up.”
As soon as I said so, Kamil pulled out his sword from his waist, and accurately pierced through the rizer’s head with a single stab. I was a little involuntarily stunned as I looked at Kamil. The head had been sliced clean off the rizer. It should have been very difficult to kill the rizer off with a single attack. After all, his sword is heavy. If he goes too slowly, the sword might shake, and if he swung too fast the sword’s weight might have caused it to go off-track. That’s why it’s surprising that Kamil seems to have done it so easily. I don’t think even Gunther has this level of swordsmanship.
“You’re surprisingly good at swordsmanship.”
At seeing me staring at him, Kamil laughed with an ambiguous expression on his face. From what I could see, he was merely feigning ignorance yet again.