“What a great honor it is to meet the famed Margils-sama of the rumors!”
As we were walking towards the giant (it feels like I am almost excessively over-using that word) arch at the entrance of Battleaxe Village, we were addressed by a male dwarf.
“Ah, apologies for the belated introduction. I am Fablu of Rimulon [Clan of Merchants]. The Chief of Zamuslon [Clan of Rulers] has tasked me with being your guide.”
In comparison with most other dwarves, he looked a bit thinner and was wearing much more extravagant clothes. While fixing his slipping eyeglasses, he introduced himself.
As expected of dwarves, they even have eyeglasses.
“Thank you for coming all the way out here. We are in your hands.”(Gio)
“So can we meet that Chief right now?” (Irudo)
“Unfortunately, his schedule is a bit packed with meetings today. Would tomorrow morning first thing be acceptable?” (Fablu)
With Irudo along, I don’t have to worry about any of the detailed arrangements, I can just take it easy.
Since the conference with the Chief was going to be tomorrow, guest rooms were arranged for us.
“Well then, welcome to Battleaxe Village.”
And thus we passed through the gate of Battleaxe Village, which was flying a complicated crest that was a combination of an axe, a hammer, a protractor, a ruler, and a compass.
“My goodness, this one also looks wonderfully made.”
“Okugata-sama, this pendant has three layers of engraving……!”
Inside the gate, everything is of course made of stone.
Despite being a dwarven village, the ceiling is very high, not inferior in the least when compared to arcades in Japan.
(T/N: For the Japanese, the word ‘arcade’ (transliterated straight to Japanese from English) refers to a large glass-covered street lined on both sides by various stores (ex. boutiques, fast food chains). Think Royal Arcade in Melbourne. Here are some Tokyo examples.)
According to the explanation by our guide Fablu, the first floor of Battleaxe Village is for associating with the various other races, including humans, so it was designed to have plenty of space.
True to fact, there are also a large number of humans besides ourselves coming to and fro. It seems that the majority of them are merchants from Lelis who’ve come here to do business.
“Okugata-sama, please take a look at this hand mirror. The reflection would not be like this if the glass was not of a very high degree of transparency.”
“Oh my, how true. And this accessory based on the motif of thorns is also so very delicate and splendid.”
Right after entering, first thing we did was go to the exchange counters close by and charge our recognition plaques with cash.
Of course, the record is not electronic. The exchange counter simply punched the amount into the plaques, in dwarven code.
Every time a purchase is made at a store, the recognition plaque is amended. Then the whole account will be settled all at once when leaving Battleaxe Village.
But even though we’d charged the plaques just now, they are already in danger of running dry……
“This necklace…… every single pearl is engraved with the crest of one of the Eight Pillar Gods…… all I can do is sigh in admiration.” (Claura)
“Despite their thick fingers, how can the dwarves do such fine work?” (Leiha)
On both sides of the four carriage-wide passageway are stores selling dwarven-made goods.
In front of the stores selling jewelry and ornaments, there are large crowds of humans gathered……. And the ones being the most boisterous among them all are the two flowers of our Jiiteias Castle.
‘Focal point,’ our companions left behind at Jiiteias Castle, the coming negotiations with the dwarves and Filsand. In the face of so many worries, being healed by a guileless scene like this might not be such a bad thing.
“Oi, it’s about high time to make them stop.”
Several tens of minutes later.
Having run out of patience, Leid pushes my back.
“No no no. Such an important task, I’ll entrust it to you.”
“Don’t you screw with me. They’re your women.”
“That’s not how it is, alright? Kindly refrain from using such an easily misunderstandable choice of words.”
In retaliation to the incredible amount of strength that he’s putting into his hand, I desperately brace my legs.
The issue is only trivial — the ladies are only releasing an aura that is making it a little hard for us to approach.
…… I kind of feel like after coming here, Leid and I have gotten a lot more familiar with each other.
In the middle of our unproductive pushing contest, Irudo suddenly whispers to me.
“Margils-sama, there are some humans that I have never noticed before. Most likely, they are merchants from Filsand.”
Indeed, there are several men wearing not the clothing common to merchants from Lelis or Yuule, but white turbans and mantles that simply shout “foreign country!” gathered together in the direction that Irudo is indicating towards.
Among them, several are armed and giving off a soldierly vibe. The stars-and-sword sigil on their shields is, according to Irudo, the insignia of Filsand.
The amount of commerce between Filsand and Battleaxe Village is ‘a trickle,’ if I remember correctly. At least, it is almost paltry in comparison to that with Lelis.
After gazing at the men from Filsand for a while, Claura and Leiha finally comes back.
“It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed such high quality goods…… What’s the matter?”
“No, it’s nothing. Alright, can you lead us to our rooms now?”
“Yes of course, please follow me.”
Is this a common occurrence? Fablu unhesitantly transitions from composedly looking on at the ladies to resuming his duties as a guide.
Right before I was about to follow him, Leiha slips next to me and whispers to me.
“My lord. At the next chance, how about gifting Okugata-sama with something she likes? Even just now, she was waiting for it.”
As I keep saying, that’s not how it is!
“Ohhh, this is……”
“What a sight to behold……”
Upon following Fablu down the large passageway, we once again find ourselves looking upwards with our mouths hanging open.
At the end of the passageway is a gigantic dome-like hall. The ceiling and walls are dotted with light sources.
What further draws our eyes is the straight pillar standing right in the middle of the hall. There are branches extending from it perpendicularly from a position near the ceiling.
The countless light sources illuminating the pillar reflect of it, giving the entire hall a dazzling, phantasmal atmosphere.
Fablu keeps on walking composedly, so we follow. When we draw close to the pillar, we notice that the entirety of it is composed of crystal.
The base of the crystal pillar had been hollowed out to make it possible to go in and out of it. Within the pillar, there are boxes made of glass-like crystal going up and down.
“This is…… what could it be?” (Claura)
“Perhaps some piece of art?” (Leiha)
Claura, who seems to have improved her impression of the dwarves, and Leiha are whispering to each other. While listening to that, I feel a shiver going down my back.
“Don’t tell me this is…… an elevator?”
“Ohh, what an eye you have. That’s right!”
Fablu rearranges his glasses, looking proud.
“That box inside the pillar automatically moves up and down using hydropower. The gears have been calibrated so that the boxes stop at the bottom and the top for 20 seconds each. Please be mindful of the time while stepping on or off.”
The construct is apparently not as complicated as the elevators in modern Japan. It only repeats going to the top floor and the bottom floor.
Since they have cranes, it wouldn’t be strange at all for them to have elevators. But for it to run on hydropower, that’s simply astonishing. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it by now, but dwarves are amazing.
However, it seems that Claura and Leid don’t really grasp the concept of an elevator.
“Incidentally, why did it have to be made out of crystal?” (Gio)
“Ahh, I also had that question before. According to someone from Tesroun [Clan of Inventors], “that somehow seems cooler” is apparently the answer.” (Fablu)
Claura and the others still look unconvinced, but well, actually experiencing it would be a lot faster than any further explanation.
“Will it really be fine?” (Claura)
“Who knows what the dwarves are ever thinking about?” (Leiha)
For humans, the capacity is 3 people, so Claura, Leiha, and I are together.
There is no need to operate any buttons, so we just have to stand inside. After the stand-by period timed out, there is a ‘gatan’ sound, after which the box begins to rise up.
I had expected some degree of jerk, but it was strong enough to warrant me propping myself up with my staff.
All around us is crystal and thus transparent. The illusion that we’ve been thrown off into midair elicits a small amount of vertigo. As I attempt to recover my balance, I feel something soft colliding with me.
“Uoh?! Are you alright?”
It turns out to be Claura, who had lost her balance and grabbed my arm to support herself. No matter how much of a dried-up old man I may be, this feeling of something soft and elastic being glued to my arm still makes blood rise to my head.
In spite of that, I still manage to stand my ground. But then Leiha comes into my line of sight.
She quickly reaches out a hand to support me. I think.
In actual fact, her hand ends up pushing Claura’s back, accidentally causing Claura and I to be pushed even closer together.
“Wait a-…… uoohh!?”
Unable to withstand the additional elasticity and pressure, I end up falling on my butt.
Of course, with Claura’s body still hanging onto me the entire time, beautiful curves and all.
“P-, pardon me……” (Claura)
“Please accept my apologies, my lord.”
Claura looks purely embarrassed, but for some reason Leiha looks kind of…… satisfied?
I don’t really get it, but I don’t think there’s any need to reproach her. I’m sure she also has moments when she feels like playing a prank. I know full well that she would not do something like this if there was even a hint of a suspicious presence.
Furthermore…… to be honest, that wasn’t such a bad thing to happen to me, as a man.
Right when this thought is causing a smile to come over my face —
I realize that there is a young girl standing before my eyes. In other words, we had reached the upper floor.
In short, the young girl is breathtakingly beautiful.
In many more words, she has red eyes, pale blond hair done up in twintails, and is wearing a cute yet extravagant dress with a short hem. She looks middle school age, or barely high school age. In one hand is a slender staff reflecting a silvery gleam.
In front of such a girl, I am on my butt and hugging Claura with one hand.
While looking down with eyes of disillusionment at sharp odds with her lovely face, she takes one step to the side.
With a second look, I see that behind her are several people who seem to be her attendants and guards. Taking their cue from her, they also move aside. In other words, “get off already” is what they’re trying to say.
“Oh dear, we are so sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
We hurriedly stand up and get off the elevator. Having exposed my embarrassing self to a young child pains my heart quite a bit.
After nodding in salutation with a thin, cold smile, she passes by me and enters the box.
On the staff in her hand is the stars-and-sword sigil.