North x Northwest - Chapter 103
Volume 4 Chapter 103
Side story 2 – Edgar’s Chapter: The Forest
Translators – Pru and Formidable
Southwestern tip of the Anatole Sea.
The waves of the ocean rippled like the shell of an enormous dragon. Amid this banquet of dark blue scales glistening in the sun, was a small fleet that dared to climb the dragon’s back.
The scene seemed peaceful at first as the sea was calm and majestic. However, the fleet had suffered from mucosal bleeding for months. Scurvy. It’s an unwanted companion on long-distance voyages. Groans constantly filled the deck below. The crew, weary of the deaths that happened one after the other, were looking up at the watchtower. Their first and foremost priority was to find land. With the entire fleet clinging to life, it might have been obvious to send the most experienced watchman up, yet the highest watchtower on this flotilla* was manned by a young boy.
In addition, the boy wasn’t a full-fledged watchman either. Originally, the boy, who had pushed the watchman to a lower tower and occupied the main watchtower by himself, was wearing a cap with an officer’s mark.
No, he’s sixteen, so he’s too old to still be called a boy.
However, even for a young man, he had an ambiguous face. In a way, he looked younger than his peers. His attire was also casual without a trace of a uniform, if it weren’t for his hat, anyone would have considered him a young sailor.
Complaints about it flowed around deck. Despite this, the youngster continued to stretch his neck and stared straight ahead. He was wearing something that resembled an enormous, thick spectacles over his eyes, and as the wind blew, his bangs scattered in front of his face. He swept his hair back irritably. Suddenly, he saw a shadow through his locks. A figure drifted between the mist on the horizon. The boy examined it calmly. Soon after, when he was certain, a voice that was still in its teens yelled excitedly.
“I can see the Southern Island! Southwest, about 100 morts!”
Another watchman from the watchtower below shouted.
“What?! Sir Edgar! Are you sure?”
When the watchman below didn’t respond, Edgar dipped his head over the railing to inspect. The watchman surreptitiously peered southwest towards the island, as if he needed to confirm it himself. To Edgar, who was still wearing those weird-looking glasses, the top of the suspicious watchman’s head appeared to be so close that he thought he could reach it if he stretched his hand. What Edgar was holding were revolutionary telescopic spectacles that he invented himself. Edgar locked his sight on the watchman’s crown, counting the latter’s few remaining hairs. From this distance, the human hairs appeared to be as thick as a snake’s body. The watchman eventually raised his head, presumably wondering why Edgar was so quiet.
Edgar let out a strange laugh upon seeing the watchman’s surprised face and wide-open eyes. The watchman hurriedly began to lower the mast line, but didn’t forget to glance at Edgar now and then as if he were looking at a madman. Edgar still had his eyes, which looked like those of a dragonfly due to the device, fixed on him. The watchman shrugged his shoulders.
‘Last night, several sailors were shocked, saying something about witnessing a giant dragonfly. I’m starting to doubt if they truly saw a monster or just this kid.’
The watchman continued climbing down to the deck, while trying to ignore the youngster still staring at him.
‘I’ve heard stories about the Marquess of Roahn’s grandson, but as expected, hearing it a hundred times didn’t prepare me for experiencing it once. The eccentricity of the Marquess’ family is well known among Sesbron’s residents, but this grandson is said to easily beat his grandfather in that department…’
The watchman muttered quietly, in case Edgar would hear.
“…I can’t believe he likes those dragonfly eyes so much…”
He kept thinking about it all the way to the captain’s office. When he knocked on the door, the door burst open instead of hearing the command to enter. The wind caused by opening it so fast was enough to blow his hat off. The watchman quickly bent down to pick up his hat as two large boots entered his field of vision. The watchman then slowly raised his body and eyes. A man, two heads taller than him, could be seen twisting his dark moustache in the doorway. The marquess spoke before the watchman could even pull himself together.
“What’s going on?”
The watchman quickly sprang to his feet in order to greet him. In return, the marquess nodded his head while chewing on his smokeless pipe.
“Sir Edgar claims to have discovered the Southern Island, Marquess.”
“Where is he?”
“He is occupying the main mast’s watchtower without permission.”
“Hmm… Looks like the light gathered well.”
Ignoring the question, the Marquess motioned for him to move. Fearing to be crushed and killed, the watchman hurriedly fled to the side of the door. He kept his gaze on the marquess as the latter passed by, producing a dull breeze. Even though the watchman saw the marquess every day for the past few months, he couldn’t adjust to such a sight, mainly due to the old man’s huge body. He was aware that most people from the Northern Continent had slimmer physiques and were at least a head or two taller than those from the Empire. But even among them, the Marquess of Roahn seemed to stand out. It was because he was both tall and broad.
The watchman pondered once more how a slim person like Edgar could be a descendant from such a massive body. The marquess’ grandchild bore little resemblance to him. Of course, everyone knew that the Marquess’ wife was an Empire native and that Edgar grew up with the Marquess’ love due to him resembling his late grandmother so much. But still, the watchman couldn’t help but notice how little the pair of grandfather and grandson looked alike.
The Marquess approached the main mast while holding Edgar’s coat. In his huge palms, the piece of fabric was reduced to the size of a handkerchief.
Edgar, who was at the top of the main mast, looked down at his grandfather with the same dragonfly eyes.
“Come down. You’ll catch a cold.”
“Grandpa. I can see the Southern Island!”
“That’s great, now come down.”
“I can’t believe it’s real!”
From above, the dragonfly boy began to descend the mast line. No matter the circumstances, the Marquess was the only person who could make Edgar move.
The Western Continent. Duasuhal.
A foreign world, with a strange ecosystem and various races.
When Eichendorff crossed the Monferrand Strait from the Northern Continent to the Central Continent, the quick-witted King of Alsace recognized the possibilities of obtaining another continent. The king began amassing a fortune through monopolistic commerce with ships from and to the Northern Continent. Alsace grew affluent by leaps and bounds, and gradually acquired and incorporated neighbouring kingdoms through battles and mergers. The large number of slaves he seized from that created a valuable labour force for the galleys. With this, all the elements needed to prepare for an expedition towards a new continent were falling into place.
Thus, the Western Continent was discovered and named the land of gold as gold poured out quite literally. With the kingdom possessing a vast territory, consisting of the West, part of the Western Continent and the anatole sea between them, the king no longer considered himself a ‘King’ who merely ruled a narrow and useless land. No, he reigned as king over all kings and his kingdom eventually became an empire ruled by an emperor.
However, the Empire desired control over the entire Western Continent. So, a fleet was sent up the strong stream of the river going inland from the Northern Island of the Western Continent. Despite the current, the expedition’s biggest challenge was navigating through the waterfalls and rapids. Furthermore, there was a tribe that commanded enormous birds beyond there, so it wasn’t easy to conquer. The sailors were basically sitting ducks if they were attacked while crossing the river.
That’s how, after the first appearance of Eichendorff, 80 years of stagnation followed.
Unable to endure such sluggishness, the explorers and navy of the Empire turned their bows to the so-called ‘Southern Island of the Western Continent’, visible beyond the southern coast of the Northern Island. Leading the expedition was Glock Eichendorff-Retiro, Marquess of Roahn and heiress of Eichendorff’s blood.
The Marquess brought along his grandson, whom he had raised since the age of ten on his flagship, The Adventure. In addition to his grandson’s likeness to his deceased wife, he treasured him even more because the kid shared his passion for adventure. The Marquess was an eccentric and turbulent old man, but after Edgar’s parents died, he made sure that the boy could freely grow within his guardianship. This upbringing made Edgar into a troublemaker who did all sorts of strange things.
And the strange thing he came up with today was to explore the coastal jungle.
Edgar had been keeping his eye on this location for some days now. Because the rainforest was perilous, it was ranked last in the expedition’s priorities. Furthermore, because it was the first landing, the expedition had no intention of naming the lands and rivers after the emperor just yet. Of course, when the time comes, a sinister woodland would be nothing more than a cold dinner. But Edgar knew that the true treasure trove was that rainforest. There were tens of thousands of animals and plants here, which all could be used for new medicines. He was a dedicated medical student who was eager to learn about new treatments. Also, his expectations were high for this expedition due to the several accomplishments in the Northern Island’s forests.
Standing on the beach, Edgar inhaled deeply for no apparent reason and carefully inspected the entrance of the jungle. The tree at the edge of the jungle looked about 6 morts away. The closer he came, the thicker the humidity got.
When he walked through the jungle, Edgar felt convinced that he was already familiar with this vegetation because he had encountered it on the Northern Island. However, some of the tracks were a bit odd. It looked like a hole was pierced through the dense woodland and created a path. Something massive seems to have broken through the forest. Edgar followed the track, stepping over remnants of splintered trees everywhere. He felt fortunate to come across a pre-planned path, for he didn’t have to cut the vine to continue his wayforward. That luck, however, was simply for his convenience, as he didn’t enjoy the idea that an animal able to make such a mess was closeby. The jungle’s predators were not human, so he was little more than a wee creature here…
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*Flotilla: A flotilla (from Spanish, meaning a small flota (fleet) of ships), or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. [Wiki]