「Your drinking game is on point, sis.」
「Aye-aye. Go for another one.」
「I can do this all day!」
A feast with all Alte Ortem members present and wild.
There are around five hundred people in just the nearest vicinity and there are probably a thousand or so elves here and there, huddling around bonfires, downing unrefined sake like there was no tomorrow. Within that swarm Forest giants and Goblins in the lower second digits can be spotted. Truly chaos at its finest.
Makoto appeared to be taken captive by all those drunks, but she actually ventured into the fray of her own volition and is now opening every sake bottle left and right in an epic display of unhinged drunkenness. Receiving words of encouragement after every single bottle she downs, Makoto takes a bite out of some finger food and proceeds to empty out yet another freshly filled glass.
「Oh my, oh dear, oh my…」
「Makoto, are you sure about this?」
「That right there’s a natural born drunk. She can handle herself just fine.」
Tatsuya remarks, slowly working his way down some unrefined sake, which was surprisingly strong because of either differing manufacturing methods or just the world itself in general, visibly dumbfounded by the sight. Although Makoto’s been going at thrice the drinking pace of Tatsuya, she’s yet to show any signs of being hammered, as her demeanor and articulation are still in check.
「It seems as though I’ve let myself go a little too much…」
「Same here, don’t sweat it.」
Tatsuya answers back to Artiem, who’s clearly out of her element, with a strained grin. It’s a lot less embarrassing to be used as an excuse to throw a party rather than being demanded to apologize to some random stranger out of the blue.
「Seeing elves, goblins and forest giants all merrily enjoying themselves under the big blue sky is quite the surreal sight, ain’t it?」
「Is that so?」
「Well, goblins and elves or elves and dwarfs have this image of being sworn enemies in most fantasy settings.」
「Aye, not to mention that forest giants aren’t really into the whole inter-race interaction thing, although for reasons different from elves.」
「This stew really hits the spot」
Mio continues to calmly tackle her food as Tatsuya informs Artiem of the stereotypes surrounding foreign races in human cities. The stereotypes themselves aren’t all that different from the ones that Hiroshi and other fellow Japanese folk hold. Most of the foreign races in cities act in accordance to their stereotypes as well. If there’s one thing that’s out of line, it would have to be Teres’ level, up until this point nobody could’ve imagined that the elf race could’ve been like that.
「Were ya’ll the ones who rescued Tiem?」
As the inter-race bonding carried on, a goblin with a sake bottle at hand and a forest giant approached them.
「I guess so?」
「From what I remember you just charged in for the lumber.」
「What’s wrong with lumber?」
Hiroshi submits after being outed by Tatsuya. That being said he did run in there intending to save Artiem initially, so claiming he did save her isn’t off by any means.
「After Teres left there weren’t any young ladies left to go about in the village asides from Tiem.」
「The thought of her letting her life slip without havin’ experienced a life appropriate for a lass her age caused even us to get flustered.」
「Very rarely does anyone venturing by themselves manage to escape from the ambush of a hunter tree, especially if they’ve never faced one before」
「Aye, to make matters worse, the only things left behind were some wreckage and Chem’s bow. How could we not be concerned?」
All the elves around the area nod in agreement to their words. Hiroshi lets out a stifled laugh at this gesture while munching on some unknown bird’s leg. The sauce has some odd meat chunks in it but the spiciness makes it rather delicious. Eaten with a rice ball it goes down quick. It’s mostly bird and rabbit meat that make up the majority of regular and finger food, although there is some deer, boar and bear meet thrown into the mix in nominal amounts. In consideration of parasites all of their meat is thoroughly cooked through.
「Deepest apologies for making you both worry, Goivejon and Foeldan.」
「Cut it, you’re safe and that’s all that matters.」
The goblin and the forest giant respond to a bowing Artiem with gently squinted eyes. It’s probably clear by this point but Goivejon’s the goblin and Foeldan’s the forest giant respectively. Although all three races vary wildly in outwardly appearance, the fact that their core beliefs are almost the exact same is quite interesting
「Come to think of it, what were you doing outside the village?」
「I had plans to meet up with the western village elves since it’s my first time heading to Renedo to do some dealings.」
「Oh so you were going to be taught about the proper negotiating etiquette and all that?」
「Yes. Before being assigned to take Teres’ place she was the one responsible for negotiations, so I had to practice under the western village elves till I got permission to leave for the outside world.」
「Why couldn’t anyone else go?」
「It’s the younger generation’s responsibility to interact with the outside, or at least that’s what the older generation insisted on, so it was us who carried the part for generations.」
It seems that even the elven society has some odd stuff going on. In that case they’d just be better off getting permission immediately and learning through first-hand experience rather than second-hand experience, but apparently this kind of outlook would get one labelled as naive by elf standards. For context Teres is a young, under one hundred, elf and Artiem is about twice as young as her. Apparently in elven society fifty years would land you in the third year of middle school by Japanese standards. Although the birthrates are progressively decreasing there’s still a fine line between being concerned and being overprotective.
「But that’s just an excuse, the real reason they don’t want the elderly leaving is because they’ll never be coming back.」
「Would they get lost?」
After hearing such astonishing reasoning, Hiroshi and Haruna seek for an explanation, completely dumbfounded at what they had just heard. Tatsuya, who had an idea where this was going, quietly carried on with his drink. Mio’s too absorbed in her shioyaki to pay attention to such trivialities.
「If only that was the case. Most of them get overtaken by wanderlust for the city and end up vanishing along with everything they were supposed to bring back to the village.」
「That sounds more like something a youngling would try pulling.」
「Aye. Disassociating from one’s village and heading off for greener pastures is more their thing.」
「Spending hundreds of years in some remote village leaves one longing for the unknown, it would appear.」
That statement said so many things concerning their culture that Hiroshi was at a loss for words but in his mind he went ‘what are you hags thinking’. The elves weren’t like this at all when the game started and that fact made it all the more flabbergasting
「If that’s the case why dun we just lettem off their leash?」
「I wouldn’t recommend that to a bunch of old-timers」
「Goivejon’s right ’bout this, the older generation should be leadin’ by example」
「If all of them started leaving depopulation would accelerate as well. That’s what happened to the southwest elf village, which got completely deserted as a result.」
Artiem chips in to Goivejon’s and Foeldan’s conversation with a concerning statement. If the elderly all packed their stuff and left one after another from a village with dwindling birth rates, it’s only natural that depopulation would quicken. Elves specifically are of working age till around seven hundred years of age, thus if all the elderly were to be taken out of the equation, maintaining the village would be impossible. The elves were facing similar problems as Japan’s rural areas.
「Declining birthrates are a problem anywhere you go it seems」
「Nay. Goblins’ life spans are short and they be havin’ kids left and right, so it ain’t an issue ‘ere at least.」
「Oh and by the way, Goivejon has seen more than a hundred winters in his time here while most goblins pass away by thirty, the old coot.」
「I ain’t no old coot, I just managed to evolve into an elder goblin through the help of Aranwen.」
Seems like the goblins have their own worries to attend to. Although Mio, who’s currently busy setting her sights on bell peppers and carrots and what not, had no interest in goblin related affairs at the moment.
「Oh yeah, how come ya’ll speaking Farlanian?」
「How many races do you think come in and out of this village on a regular basis?」
「Not counting humans, who occasionally happen by, a total of four different races gather together here. If you were to normalize either one of their languages the others wouldn’t take too kindly to that, now would they?」
「Besides, just from the way our mouths are constructed it’d be difficult to speak anything asides from the human language.」
They could kind of get Goivejon’s and Foeldan’s answer and sort of not. Aside from Artiem everyone else mispronounces the two’s names as Govjohn and Feldan, but as far as understanding one another goes there’s no real issue to be had. Also fairies are the remaining fourth race but they’re didn’t have any business here today so they’re not present.
「So Teres’ and Artiem’s enunciation is that clean because they’re negotiators for their race?」
「Yes that would be the case. Attempting to negotiate without proper pronunciation would be no laughing matter.」
When in Rome do as the Romans do. Everyone warmly watches over Artiem as she says something to that effect with a completely straight face. Even at this stage Mio is still absorbed with food, smoked cheese this time, but it’s starting to look forced, as though she’s purposefully trying to block out outside noises so that her inner impression of the races doesn’t crumble any further. A self-defense mechanism had kicked in.
「Hmm? It’s awfully noisy over there isn’t it?」
「That’s the infamous sake – the Dwarf Slaughterer!」
An unsettling name comes out of Goivejon’s and Foeldan’s mouths as they react in a needlessly overblown matter. Everyone figures from the sound of it that it’s likely really strong sake.
「What’s up with that name?」
「It’s a type of alcoholic beverage, made from Lars barley, that’s been distilled to the very limit just for the sake of getting completely hammered.」
「It ignites just by bringing a fire source near a cap-less neck. It’s said that dwarves would pass out before even getting one of these down. The only thing it has going for it is the alcohol percentage.」
「Why would anyone ever-」
「I think I see Makoto downing one right now in fact.」
Just as Tatsuya had noted, Makoto and around ten elves were drinking the thing that could most aptly be described as liquid alcohol. The elves give in after just two bottles but Makoto’s already on her fourth one. Considering the amount she drank before that it’s probably about time to put a stop to this madness.
「I’ll be right back.」
「No worries, once that thing’s hit the scene the celebration’s already over.」
「Aye. It’s quite surprising there was someone strong enough to fully down even one of those.」
「And that someone’s a little girly」
Goveijon and Foeldan talk about Makoto in awe. Even by average human standards she’d be ranked in the short category. Asides from the goblins all the races present boast an average height of over one hundred seventy centimeters, that would leave Makoto as the shortest fully grown lady here. The very Makoto who is currently emptying the sake that even dwarfs couldn’t handle and, despite the fact, her enunciation and thinking capabilities are yet to degrade, even in the eyes of an onlooker. It’s natural to be taken aback by this sight.
「Roasted corn’s best with soy sauce」
「Mio, you should try holding back as well…」
Tatsuya looked dead in the eyes as he admonishes Mio, who was busy crunching on corn in her own little corner of the world. At the end of the day they’re still the exact same unique little group they always were.