Section 1: Sarah
“Goldmund, just a little more please.”
I couldn’t control my impatient heart, so jumping out of the carriage, I began walking through the snow on my own two feet. Solretta Litta is a mountain town. A couple hundred years ago it was also a mining town, but the mines have inevitably dried up since.
“Oh, there’s a river right next to the town. How beautiful.”
“Mhm. It’s called Anne Libretta, and it flows all the way towards the capitol Osnell. The mountain you see over there is St. Noglint, and in the olden days we would mine gems from there. Although now all the mountain gives us is snowmelt.”
“Didn’t you hear what she just said? The entire river is melted snow, so of course it’s cold.”
“Yeah, but there was a fish swimming close by, so I thought I could grab it…..”
“Considering the season, you will freeze if you fall into the water, so perhaps it is better to avoid the river?”
In this time of year the snow makes it hard to tell where the bank ends and the water begins, so the adults in town end up with dry mouths after constantly telling the children over and over again not to go near the river.
“Hoh, what a splendid gate and wall.”
Sitting on the coachman’s seat and grasping Goldmund’s reins, Saluena raised a voice of admiration as we pulled up to the city.
“Indeed…..impressive stone ramparts.”
“They’re remnants from when we were still a mining town. In those days the gems we mined here were an important source of income for the country, so these walls were raised to protect the city from monsters.”
A couple centuries have passed since it was put up, so it’s become dilapidated here and there however the people in town have kept up on regularly repairing it. As a result, even now our wall does its duty of repelling any monsters that might want to attack the town.
By the time the snow melts completely and summer begins, this whole grassy meadow will be filled with fully-bloomed yellow flowers. Then there’s our historic barrier and red brick tile roofs on each home. Wrap that up with the presence of St. Noglint towering behind it and the crystalline Anne Libretta flowing alongside it, and you’ll find that Solretta Litta is a pretty popular tourist destination. But as one would expect, there are no hot springs here.
“Incidentally, the gate is closed, so is it fine to continue proceeding as we are?”
By the time the city came into full view, Rose-san tilted her head and voiced a question.
“Yes, there aren’t very many people coming and going this time of year, so the gate is closed at basically all times. We just need to ask the soldiers to open it for us.”
“There are soldiers permanently stationed here? This town is even bigger than I thought.”
“I can definitely get my armor fixed here.”
“You there, halt!!”
When we reached the foot of the gate, a voice called down over us from above. It should go without saying that the ‘you there’ was referring to us. Saluena pulled on Goldmund’s reins, bringing him to a stop, and called to the soldier standing above the gate.
“We have business in this city. Please quickly open the gate.”
“Are you all adventurers? What’s your cargo?”
“Marcus-san, it’s me, Iris!! These people have been protecting me and brought me back from Rifront!!”
When the soldier Marcus-san leaned forward and saw me waving towards him while stroking Goldmund, he raised a loud shout. He then ran off, disappearing somewhere I couldn’t see.
“Oi open the gate!! Iris-chan is back!!”
“Woah, really!? Uwa, she is!!”
“Oi hurry up and get that gate open!! Faster now, faster!!”
The racket of clanking armor continued to sound from beyond the gate. Starting with Marcus-san, a few other soldiers stuck out their faces and waved when they saw me.
“Iris, is quite the popular person…….I mean, you have quite a few acquaintances.”
“Yes. The first man was Marcus-san, the father for one of my friends.”
This town is by no means small, but after living here for sixteen years, you’ll naturally start remembering people’s names and faces even without putting any effort into learning them.
“Has it been half a year since the snow left you stranded? Then there was news of the dragon too, and I got worried.”
The gate opened with a heavy noise. Marcus-san welcomed me back, standing in the same position and giving the same smile he gave when he saw me off half a year ago. Back then I was on my own, but not anymore. In the last six months, the best thing that’s happened was meeting these people who I can stick out my chest and proudly call my friends.
Then when the gate had lifted up just enough for a person to fit through, a girl rolled across the dirt, slipping through that crack and ran towards me.
Wearing a fluffy coat made from dolinp wool, my sister Sarah jumped into my chest.
“Ah, it really is Onee-chan!! I wanted to see you, I really wanted to see you!!”
“So you came to welcome me back Sarah. It’s already been half a year, and I was feeling lonely too…….”
Just as I was about to tell her about how lonely I was feeling as well, Sarah stood up on her tiptoes while still being held in my arms. She then kissed me right on the cheek.
“I’m never letting you go on your own again!! The next time you go somewhere, Sarah is following after you!!”
“Sarah-chan has been waiting here every day since she received the letter letting her know that Iris-chan was coming back.”
Marcus-san explained with a laugh.
“Is that so……… Thank you, and sorry to have made you worry so much Sarah.”
I returned the favor, bending down and giving my little sister a peck on the cheek as well.
Sarah’s cheek was wet with tears and tasted a little salty.
And then the gate was finally completely open. I haven’t set foot in this city in half a year, yet nothing’s changed. As such I was calmly welcomed inside as if I had only gone out for a stroll.