Hero or Idol?
The village chief danced around for a bit before settling down and guiding us into the village. A huge mass of people crowded around the area in front of the gate. There were at least two hundred black catkin gathered around us. Despite that large number, the crowd was awfully quiet. We could hear some murmuring alongside the occasional sob, but nobody was cheering or shouting. Most of the villagers were stunned in silence.
One of the black catkin in front of us knelt onto the ground. He clasped his hands together in prayer and stared fervently at Fran, as if she was the Messiah. One by one, the other black catkin around him followed suit. It didn’t take long for the entire crowd to begin praying, with Fran as the object of their worship. The bizarre atmosphere left Fran and I bewildered.
“People, people, stop it,” said the village chief. “Can’t you see that you are bothering the Black Lightning Princess?”
The people around Fran awkwardly got to their feet, though they did still continue to send her their ardent stares.
“I’m sorry about that,” said the village chief. “As far as we black catkin are concerned, you may as well be a walking miracle. Everyone’s just acting like this because seeing you has moved their hearts. Could you forgive them?”
“Nn. No problem.”
As if Fran’s voice was a signal, the crowd started to buzz.
“Oh my god, she talked!”
“Her voice is so adorable!”
“She is truly divine!”
“Mommy, how do I become like her?”
The people around us were talking excitedly. They were treating Fran more like a famous idol than an adventurer or warrior. The crowd rapidly closed in on her. Everyone was trying to get a closer look at her all at once.
“Enough!” shouted the chief. He waved his hands, shooing the crowd away. “I must show her our village’s hospitality. If you would please follow me, Black Lightning Princess.”
The crowd parted and allowed the chief to lead us to a slightly larger house in the middle of the village. A large group of black catkin trailed behind us. Most of them were kids, so I half expected them to call out to us. But none of them did. It was obvious from the looks in their eyes that they were too busy admiring Fran to remember how to use their voices.
When we got to the chief’s house he sat us down and then personally brewed Fran a cup of tea. A bunch of black catkin crowded outside the window, watching her drink. I could sense that a lot more had their ears pressed to the walls.
“I apologize for being unable to serve you anything better,” said the chief.
“Nn. Not problem. Tasty,” said Fran, after taking a sip.
“Ohhhh! That’s good to hear! Thank you for your kind words!”
The people outside the house cheered.
“These tea leaves were produced by this village. Everyone will be honored to hear that you enjoyed them.”
I hope Fran wasn’t just providing them with lip service. What would they have done if she said it was bad? Probably have someone run off and buy expensive tea.
“Now then.” The chief sat down. “May I ask the reason for your visit?”
“Not much,” said Fran. “Just wanted to see black catkin village.”
“Oh I see!” The chief smiled as he nodded. “It’s an honor for you to show interest in us. Please let me offer you my home for you to stay the night. There are no inns in this village and my house is the biggest here.”
“Don’t worry. Just a few days. Will camp outside.”
“Nononono! How could I possibly allow the Black Lightning Princess herself to stay outdoors? Please, make yourself at home.”
“If there is anything else you need, please feel free to let me know.”
This is a little troubling. We didn’t come here to impose on the village. Rather, we came here to see if there was anything we could do to help.
“Tell if any trouble,” said Fran. “Will help with anything.”
“I am truly happy to hear those words,” said the chief. “But we could could not possibly ask that of you, who has already brought so much hope to our tribe.”
“It’s fine,” insisted Fran. “Tell me. Any monster problems?”
“We are in a secluded area that doesn’t see many monsters,” he explained, “so they haven’t been a threat for a while. We have the beast lord to thank for finding us this location. The land isn’t very fertile, and it’s hard to grow crops, but at least we can live here in peace. That said,” he paused, “could I ask one thing of you?”
“Nn. Happy to do anything”
“Can you show our young ones how strong you are?”
“Yes. It isn’t possible for us old folk to hunt 1000 evil beings. We’re just too old. But the younger generation has a chance. I would really appreciate it if you could show them that it’s possible for us black catkin to be more than just the weakest tribe. You may even be able to inspire them to go out and hunt evil beings for themselves.”
“Nn. Got it. Right now, tribe a little cowardly.”
“Great! I’m glad to hear it!”
The black catkin outside of the house started kicking up a fuss right as we wrapped up the conversation. The commotion grew louder and louder until they were shouting with their voices laced with panic. And before long, someone began violently knocking on the chief’s door.
“Chief! Chief are you in? It’s an emergency!” the person shouted.
The chief hurried to the door and opened it.
“What is going on? You are being loud,” said the chief.
“Chief it’s bad! Goblins! We sighted goblins nearby the village!”
“Why are you so panicked? We have the guards. What are they doing?”
“This is more than the guards can handle!” shouted the man at the doorway. “There are over 20 goblins!”
“What did you say? That’s way too many! Schwartzekatze is doomed!”
Hmm? Is twenty goblins alot? Maybe for a small village, I guess, but their reaction is totally overblown.
Fran stood up.
“Will handle them,” she said. “Will show my strength.”
“Will you really take care of it for us?” asked the chief nervously.
“Nn. Have some people follow. Will put on a show.”
“Got it! I’ll send some promising fellows your way.”
The chief nodded and dashed out the house in a hurry.