At the Northern Fort V3C34: Spirit Families (1)
All of the knights were trying to destroy the door using axes, but the vines were so thick that they couldn’t quite get through them so easily. It was then that Kix called out to us from outside.
“Woodbaum! These are the vines that you made, so can’t you make these tree-like vine thingies disappear using your powers?”
Woodbaum tilted his head and thought for a bit before responding.
“I’m not sure, maybe I can. I’ll try it.”
He concentrated for a bit, and then the sound of the vines moving resounded.
Did he succeed? -I thought, but it seemed I was mistaken.
“Wait. Please stop. They’re increasing in number.”
Kix said hastily.
Even with the increase in number, the Northern Fort’s knights did not lack in brute strength in stamina, so we didn’t have to wait too long before they managed to destroy the door – vines and all – allowing the four of us to escape.
With Woodbaum taking the lead in exiting, Rekka-san and I followed after him, with me still in Rekka-san’s arms.
Rekka-san was acting as calm as usual, not showing any signs of her nyctophobia or claustrophobia, but Tina-sana and I still had some lingering fears from our encounter with the mouse, so our faces were still stiff.
“Mil, are you okay?”
The One-Eyed Knight asked, and I weakly responded, “Yup”. I could see Branch Captain-san behind him too. His face appeared visibly worried as he looked towards me.
After roughly rubbing my head as I appeared to be on the verge of tears, Kix flinched at the sight of Tina-san’s reddened eyes.
“What’s wrong, even Tina’s looking teary-eyed.”
“But, there were mice inside.”
“It was scary……”
When the two of us said that, trembling from the memory of it, Kix retorted with this.
“It’s a good thing that it wasn’t just the two of you locked up in there. It’s good that Rekka was in there with you, since she can be relied upon.”
To Kix, that was just a casual remark, but those were words that brought confidence to Rekka-san. She secretly glanced at Tina-san, me, and Woodbaum, and gave a happy smile.
“Ah, the Fairy-sama is……”
And then, the fairy, also appearing to think that Rekka-san would be okay from now on, melted away under the light from the sun, and disappeared.
With this, the case is closed -I thought to myself, but then I suddenly sensed the presence of water as I whirled around.
Huh? Could this feeling be-? No, but……
As I thought that, I had Rekka-san put me down on the ground as I hurriedly broke off into a run.
“Mil-sama, where are you going?”
I was headed for the pond that was in the fort.
It wasn’t a pond where fish swam, but a man-made pond created from the snow removed from around the fort. And to me, it was a traumatising pond that I had previously unwillingly dove into in the middle of winter in order to get away from the wild dog that was chasing me.
Rather than saying I was heading for this pond, it would be more accurate to say that I had been chasing after the ‘presence of water’ that had come this way. As I had expected, the pond had lost its usual desolate appearance.
Within the not-too-large pond was a large serpent with faint-aqua scales that looked rather cramped.
Not even half of Father’s large and long body could fit inside the pond, as his upper half was protruding out of it. Meanwhile, the water that had originally been in the pond overflowed, flooding the ground around it.
Woodbaum, and everyone from the fort who had come after me, froze in shock at the sight of the gigantic snake. This should be the first time that the One-Eyed Knight, Branch Captain-san, Kix and Tina-san were seeing Father in his giant snake form.
Everyone instinctively readied their axes at the sight of the giant snake for a moment, so I hastily began running around explaining.
“Don’t kill my Father! He’s big, but he’s not scary!”
His movements were also slow, so he wasn’t a danger.
“Mil’s Father? Meaning that he’s the water spirit.”
After seeing everyone lower their axes, I once again turned to face Father.
“Father, what’s wrong?”
My paws splish-splashed as I advanced through the puddle and asked that while looking up at Father’s eyes, which were still large even though they were only half-open.
Father’s forked tongue flicked out—though to me, ‘flicked’ might not be the appropriate word, considering how huge his tongue was—and spoke unconcernedly.
“I was thinking……that I’d live here……from now on.”
I unconsciously raised my voice, but the knights probably felt more like screaming, “EHHHH!?” themselves. Everyone was holding themselves back and keeping quiet in deference to Father, but their faces looked strained.
Father wouldn’t do something like attacking humans, and he generally spent most of his time sleeping as though he were dead, so he wouldn’t move around much, but it would be a disaster for a giant snake to stay at the fort long-term. Rather than it being because he was a spirit, his size would just naturally get in the way. It was a completely different situation from Woodbaum, who could just stay in the corner of the courtyard as a deer.
I had to persuade him somehow. I could feel pressure coming from the knights behind me saying [Please politely ask your father to return home] too.
“Father, it will be impossible for you to live here.”
After staring fixedly at me, Father pretended not to hear me as he slowly closed his eyes.
I raised a paw and struck him violently. With his body being so big, I had to hit him this hard, or else Father wouldn’t notice.
“You’d hate to stay in such a confined area too, right Father? Let’s go back to your spacious lake.”
When I said that, Father opened one eye and gave a sharp glance to Woodbaum, who was behind me. Even the movement of his eye was slow.
Woodbaum seemed afraid of Father, as he shrieked, “Eep!” like a herbivore and trembled.
“Why can’t I stay here……even though the tree spirit is here……”
“That’s because…um…Woodbaum is sick.”
Even when I answered with that, Father did not appear to be convinced. He continued on in a dissatisfied tone of voice.
“……even though…Milfiria…promised…to come play…every day…………you didn’t come. That is why…I…came……”
Ehhh, did I make a promise like that? -I thought while wiping away a cold sweat. It was true that while I had basically been going to play at Father’s everyday up until now, lately I hadn’t kept up with that habit.
It was true that lately, because I had been so preoccupied with checking Rekka-san’s and Woodbaum’s conditions, I had been spending more time at the fort. As a result, I hadn’t gone to Father’s place as much.
When I went to go play at Father’s place recently, he rubbed my paw pads and complained to me with his eyes, but I still couldn’t help but prioritise Rekka-san and Woodbaum’s matters. Thus, as might be expected, there were a lot of days after that where I didn’t end up visiting.
That might be why Father got lonely.
Something fell with a plop from Father’s mouth.
Having fallen directly into the puddle, the thing was wet as I brought my nose close to it and sniffed. No, even without sniffing it I can tell what it is though.
“A deer antler?”
Apparently, the antlers of male deers regrow every year. There were times where, after their breeding season, I had found their fallen antlers in the forest, having finished their duty. I had previously picked up a pair on Snowlea Mountain, but Father had probably picked up these antlers from the forest around his own nest.
However, Woodbaum appeared to have misunderstood, thinking that Father had eaten a deer and the antlers were all that was left after his digestion, as he shrieked, “EEEK!” and backpedalled.
“Before……you spoke happily……about finding deer antlers.”
“Then, is this for me?”
Father gave a single blink of his eyes instead of nodding.
After thinking about what would make me happy to receive, Father did his utmost effort to find things like deer antlers and acorns for me. Just imagining his appearance as he did that touched my heart a little.
I feel like I’ve done something bad by not going to visit every day.
“Father, I will do my best to visit you every day from now on. Even if you don’t give me things like antlers and acorns, I will go to visit Father because I want to see you.”
When I looked up at him and said that, Father’s eyes appeared to waver slightly with deep emotion, despite his facial expression usually being completely unreadable.
“That’s why, return to your usual home. I’ll come again to play later today, okay?”
When I entreated him thusly, Father slowly raised his mouth and replied.
Father! That is where you were supposed to say ‘okay’!
“Even though the tree spirit……who isn’t even your father……is here……near…Milfiria’s nest….why do I…as your father…have to live in a place far away……it’s unfair……and weird.”
My eyebrows scrunched up as I pouted. This is a real pickle.
Father is unexpectedly stubborn. I might not be able to persuade him.
That being said, when I glanced behind me, Woodbaum was still trembling in fear that Father would attack him, while the knights were giving me eyes saying, “Don’t look at me”. The One-Eyed Knight and Branch Captain-san can’t exactly tell Father off either.
……alright. Let’s call Mother.
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Papa-san is super jelly. Also Mil, naïve of you to think that Snowlea will be able to do anything about this. She did tell you to go visit your daddy cause he was bothering her so much, ya know?
“mom! dad wants to live in the fort, do something!”
“oh, what a good idea! i’ll come live here too, so i can spend more time with you!”
soon every spirits she knows start living in the fort, turning it into some sort of legendary house of spirits…
Then Mil…. Why not just living together with your Father? Hm? Tell Mom to let Dad stay in the nest and living together as a family even if it’s just for a moment 😅
Actually I also want to see Kugalg interaction with his mother. He is so shy when Hilg told Mil that he often visit his mom hi hi😅 how cute, so I also want to see his cuteness with his mom😖😤
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