The ending for now until the author comes back.
155 Part 1
Volume 8: Side Story Special
I tried writing a story that might expand future developments.
Volume 8 ends with this. I am still not 100% decided how things will turn out after this. It would help me if you could bear with me!
Maria Kudan is free-spirited.
Even the king had his hands full with her carefree energy, and since the old geezer acting as her chaperone hurt his waist, she had been out of control akin to a beast finally set free out to the wild, out on a journey roaming the different countries at long last. “Wait up, sis!” says the voice that echoed to the castle some days ago or so. Now, no one knows where she is…
“…Brr, brr, it’s cold! Could this really be a place where people live?”
Maria came to a country in the north where snow piled up deeply. With the clothes she was wearing when she went out of the castle, standing it would be beyond one’s power as one would expect even for a girl with a strong body, so she had covered herself in the fur of the bear she had hunted on the way. With the head part of the bear snuggly covering her head, her entire body was covered in the fur of the brown bear. Astonished by her own tackiness that she once saw reflected on the water, she was wearing a necklace that she had fashioned with her own hands from a beautiful stone that she had picked up at the bank of a lake.
The bear’s fur was warm. Even so, her stamina was being robbed away from under her feet as they sank every step she walked. There was also the sensation that the warmth was escaping her body from the soles of her feet. She wanted to find and quickly slip into a place where a bear would hibernate, but this land was apparently one that froze to a level that even bears would refuse. Her free accommodation at a bear’s home unrealized, Maria at last fell on top of the pure-white snow that was deeply piling up.
“I-I want to get a free ride on the magic train… just one more time… on the roof…”
The wind feels nice, doesn’t it? Those were the words that she could not say until the end. The old geezer and Rahsa were admirably anxious about Maria’s body, yet even when she was on the verge of death Maria’s mind was carefree.
Where she woke up was inside a dim cave that was faintly filled by a light. She was lying down on a hard bed made of wood. She thought she had died, yet apparently it seems Maria was saved by someone. She was a woman of strong luck and vitality through thick and thin.
Upon getting up and trying to look around, there were two children reclining against the wall whom she asked about the place. The two had their eyes wide open in a state of surprise. Maria was surprised as well. One of the two girls had dog ears on her head; the other one had cat ears.
She tried getting close to touch and tried pulling them.
“How strange. They look real!”
The little girl said courageously. And then, she continued:
“You’re not scared?”
“Scared? Why? Why would I be when I’m stronger than you.”
“That’s not what I’m asking…”
“What are you asking then?”
The little girls were annoyed. Though they were looking at each other’s faces, it felt like it was going to take considerable time and effort to explain, so she did not let words out anymore. Recalling that they had been told to call the adults once she woke up, the two ran away deeper into the cave. Judging from how the sound of their footsteps reverberated, it seemed to be a rather wide cave, beyond what was expected.
After a while, it was a rather old man who appeared out of the darkness. He was accompanied, behind him, by the two little girls earlier. He also had cute looking cat ears on his head.
Cute looking ears and a wrinkled face. Maria could not keep silent.
“What a mismatch!”
“Is that what you’re going to say on our first meeting? Despite everyone from your clan having kept their manners and not saying anything. But I appreciate your honesty.”
“And it’s disgusting too!”
“…Now that’s too much.”
“I’m Maria. I’m traveling, you know!”
The old man was perplexed by the hand that Maria held out in greeting.
“No, you’re readily introducing yourself? This is my first time to see someone offer to shake hands after they called me disgusting.”
Said the old man, all the while shaking hands with Maria.
“I am Goro. I am of the magical clan as you can see, and I am the chief of the beings living in this stretch of land here.”
“Hmph, more importantly don’t you have any food? I’m starving!”
“‘Hmph,’ you say? Are you not interested at all? We’re the magical clan, you know!? Well, food has been prepared, so just wait.”
Maria sat on the bed again and resolved to meekly wait.
“What the heck is a magical clan? I didn’t hear about that in the country of Kudan where I was born, you see.”
She asked while putting the bear fur back on.
“You came from far away from here, huh? There is no one here who doesn’t know the magical clan.”
“What the heck? Are you saying I’m ignorant? I don’t deny it!”
“No, that’s not exactly what I am saying… You don’t deny it?”