“Is the little girl your daughter?” Brendel said to the middle-aged man.
“She is indeed Brynjar’s daughter, my lord, but I’ll be taking care of her. Her mother is my adopted daughter.” It was the Elder who replied: “He has volunteered to be your guide because he’s grateful that you brought her back.”
(TL: I searched for a while, but I’m not finding any medieval equivalent for “in-laws”. That term seems to be relatively new. So instead of Bro.-in-law X, it’s just Brother X. I’ll assume that a father/mother calls his son-in-law by name without any addressing term.)
He took a moment to stroke Sifrid’s head.
“I would gladly guide you through the Dark Forest myself but I hope my lord understands I have to lead the village, even though I’m more familiar with it…..”
The mercenaries were silent the entire time. The rumors about the Dark Forest were more several times worse than the bedtime stories used to frighten the children in Aouine to sleep.
“What of her mother?” Amandina asked with furrowed brows.
The Elder sighed and his eyes appeared distant as he recalled old memories: “Sifrid’s mother shares half the blood of an Elf and was the loveliest girl in our village. She was also the happiest girl when she married Brynjar, but regrettably, she died to protect the other villagers during the previous ‘Hunt’……”
Brendel’s throat went dry. Memories of the crucified men and women came flooding back to him once more.
A Hunt was something that the nobles did to subjugate the fearsome barbarians. This practice was supposedly eliminated during the first Holy War as they stopped invading civilized kingdoms by then. Graudin’s supposed Hunt against the Senia’s citizens was nothing more to fulfill his perverse bloodlust.
[That fucking bastard must have deepened the feud between the locals and the Senia through some ridiculous reasoning……]
“…… I see.” Brendel chose to move forward: “Let’s move on to the next topic. I won’t object to your choice since you have already decided. I don’t believe going into the forest is a simple matter, so how much time do you need?”
His eyes went briefly to Brynjar before it went to the little girl. It should be fine to at least preserve his life with three Gold-ranked fighters in his group but he was troubled about the villagers.
“We will be ready in a few days, but my lord, I wish to warn you about the Dark Forest. It will become dangerous when autumn sets in fully. It is especially so just before winter, because the starving beasts in it will become extremely aggressive. And the powerful monsters—”
“That is fine,” Brendel interrupted him. “We only wish to cross the forest and we can handle anything that comes along our way.”
The Elder looked surprised; his mouth opened and shut a few times but no words came out.
He did not know Brendel was looking for the druids. They had been gone for nearly four centuries and had no ties with t
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