Nothing like… a drastic change in scenery happened as soon as we entered the capital.
I could feel the warmth of spring past the lake, and there were cities and villages with carriages and people passing along the road in the peaceful green land ruled by the great King of Traus. The scenery was exactly the same as the one I saw whilst travelling.
The design of the armour worn by the soldiers in the city was a bit different, probably because they were employed by someone else.
There was one thing that was different though.
I hadn’t seen the vibrant colours of spring along the grasslands we had passed until now.
We stayed at an inn in the next town after we left the lake, and the lady at the inn recommended that we travel by foot instead of taking the carriage.
Then, we entered a mountain path and saw a cluster of bright yellow flowers.
All the branches in the shrubs along the highway, which was about as tall as a man, were covered in small flowers with overlapping petals, and they beautifully decorated the highway.
They looked like yellow cherry blossoms.
The shrubs were like cherry blossom trees since their flowers blossomed before the leaves grew. It made me feel nostalgic.
Flowers are a special product of this season. I was grateful to the lady in the inn who told us about them, and we also played around since we were in nature.
We took a few of the blossoming flowers and Rille-nee and I decorated each other’s heads with the flowers, then I took the petals and played them like a glass flute.
In my previous life when I was a little kid, I used to catch the beautiful cherry blossom petals in the air before they fell to the ground and blew on them with my friends in spring.
I would do this every year and eventually learnt how to blow the different notes. I still remember how to play it now that I’ve been reborn.
“Wow, how’d you do that?”
When I tried to blow on the petal properly, Rille-nee picked up a petal and looked at it with interest.
“You pull the petal as flat as you can without tearing it and place it on your lower lips. Then you blow.”
Pii, puu. The two of us enjoyed playing a silly ensemble together and making dumb sounds echo through the mountains.
I guess this is also one of the best things about travelling.
We couldn’t make it to the next town on foot and whilst playing, so we spent a night at an inn on the ridge of the mountain. Of course, we decided to travel by foot because we knew there was an inn here.
We were also told about the wagon which passed through here, so we boarded the wagon that came from the previous town before noon and became its only passengers. There wasn’t enough room in the wagon to carry a lot of people because of all the luggage.
As always, I opened my notebook on the wagon and read over everything again even though I had already memorised everything that was written in here.
Rille-nee was making pressed flowers with yesterday’s flowers by tucking them in her luggage, but the coachman liked to talk.
He casually spoke to Rille-nee and then started making small talk.
“The most famous thing around here is the hot spring of life that springs from the earth.”
I had been half-listening to their conversation up to that point, but as soon as I heard those words, I closed my notebook and like Rille-nee, leaned towards the coachman.
The carriage entered the mountain roads. It was an active volcano which also extended to the area where we had seen the yellow flowers yesterday, and I could smell hydrogen sulphide every now and then.
There was a hot spring resort at the foot of the mountain and people could soak in the hot water while looking at the yellow flowers and trees. I was suddenly excited.
“The hot springs gush up from the ground?”
Rille-nee, who had never been to a hot spring before, furrowed her brows in confusion.
“Yup. There’s magma under the ground… it’s like a mass of hot fire, which heats up the underground water and makes it gush out from the cracks in the ground.”
“You can bury fire in the ground?”
“Yup. When the mass of hot fire cools down and hardens, it becomes rocks or becomes the ground’s surface.”
I had no proof that the way this world worked in the same way as my old one did, but I explained this to Rille-nee since I assumed it was the same from the hydrogen sulphide.
“The water has a lot of stuff mixed in it and it’s really good for you.”
“It’s not just hot water? It’s like a medical bath, isn’t it?”
“Ah, yeah something like that.”
“You sure know a lot, young lady. I’ve heard that it’s good for you, but I’ve never heard how it works in detail.”
I didn’t explain much since I’m not an expert in this topic.
But, how springs. Ah, it would be nice to soak in the hot springs.
“Do normal inns have hot springs too? Even the cheap ones?”
“That’s what makes it so popular.”
“Yay! We’ll soak in the hot springs tonight ―――.”
BANG. The wagon suddenly tilted to the right, and I fell back and hit my head and bit my tongue.
Rille-nee was sitting next to me, so she also fell back and banged the back of her head against a box.
“A-are you alright, Aime?”
“Y-yeah. Are you alright, Rille-nee? I wonder if the wheel flew off.”
We both sat up while holding our heads, then we heard a large group of voices coming from outside.
I could only see the front and back of the wagon since it was covered in a curtain, but I could see a group of people running down the mountainside through the cracks of the curtains.
The middle-aged coachman shouted and whipped the horses desperately, but the wheels seemed to be stuck in a ditch and the horses couldn’t pull the wagon. Could this have been a trap!?
Heeeey! Why would bandits appear so close to the capital?! They must live here since they set up this trap! What’re the soldiers doing?!
Dammit, I can’t die after coming all the way here! I’ll do whatever it takes to get me and Rille-nee into the hot springs tonight!”
“Rille-nee, please cover me!”
“What’re you going to do?!”
“I’m going to push the wagon!”
I grabbed the stick that I had picked up in the mountains yesterday to use as a walking stick and got out of the wagon.
I was scared to death of having a group of people with deadly weapons behind me, but I knew that I would be killed anyway if I kept cowering and shaking. Even a coward would jump off a cliff when chased by a tiger!
I inserted the stick under the wheel and leveraged it up. I could get the wagon out of the ditch little by little with the horsepower of the two horses pulling the wagon.
But as expected, the bandits quickly caught up to us.
But it was the bandits who screamed first because Rille-nee had thrown thorny gaha nuts at them.
Gahas were a wonderful natural weapon, similar to a small version of Iga chestnuts. They were used as painkillers, and it also hurt to step on something that had fallen on the ground. It was super effective!
Then, she threw homemade tear gas bombs which were made from eggshells. When these eggshells hit the ground and break, hakto powder is released from the inside, stinging people’s eyes and causing secondary damage.
Don’t underestimate us sisters! Though, they’re coming right up to me!
I put all my weight into the stick as the bandits’ eyes were glazed over.
Just a little more ―――, then a cracking sound of despair dropped me to the ground.
… Eh, no way, did the stick break?
Blood drained from my face as I fell on my ass.
The wagon, which had been lifted up half-way, fell into the deepest part of the ditch again.
“――― You fucking brat!”
A man grabbed me by the collar and pulled me down, and I came face to face with a heinous looking man.
The only thing we can do now is to abandon the wagon and flee into the mountains!
I jumped up and tried to remove the man’s hand while yelling at Rille-nee but his grip was too strong.
The other bandits rushed to the wagon before long.
Dammit, I made a bad decision. We should have abandoned the wagon earlier and ran away!
I heard Rille-nee screaming my name as she was being dragged out of the wagon.
I tried desperately to get away from the man, but he was too strong. He pushed me down to the ground with one hand and swung his hatchet.
Various memories, including ones from my previous life, rushed through my mind, and the last thing that popped up in my mind was a simple question.
――― God, why did you reincarnate me if you’re going to kill me here?
And as if responding to this…
The man collapsed to the ground with a heavy thud, and a boy with green eyes appeared before me.