40 Home Again, Home Again (3)

At the top of the hill, with a beautiful view of the town below, there was the spirit spring that oversaw and protected the town as it had once done for the village. In the center of the clear water were the same koi fish that had lived in it earlier, and sitting in the center of the water, floating like a lily-pad, was Khloe, in her physical child form, some of the smaller Golden Crows perched on her head and shoulders as she sang, operatic sounds echoing through the air. Other critters sat around and listened to her song, from squirrels and birds, rabbits and toads, and even some of the town's cats and dogs, creating a fairy-tale-like scene.

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Seran and the trio stood at the edge of the circle of critters, listening to the song as a child listens to a lullaby. Through her voice, the serenity of nature, its warmth and protection, blossomed in her audience's hearts, soothing even the most high-strung of them. Her song lasted a good ten minutes, during which time some of the critters had even fallen asleep peacefully, including two of the Golden Crows.

Taking a few steps forward, careful to avoid the sleeping critters, Seran said quietly, "Hey, Khloe."

The spirit smiled as she held the sleeping Golden Crows like a mother would her child, replying to Seran, "Hey to you too, Seran. Knowing you, you're not here for a visit. What is it this time?" She wasn't wrong in assuming such a thing about Seran, as his previous visits were all with a purpose in mind.

"I brought some new family members to meet you." He beckoned the three forward and introduced them as he had to Storm earlier. "They're going to be living here with us from now on, so I wanted to have them build a den under the hill. As the town's resident spirit, it would be best to introduce them to you, as you are the voice of the animals here."

"Voice of the animals, huh? Well, you're not wrong about that. My word tends to trump that of the elders and your father when it comes to our magical friends." Khloe looked over the three of them with a kind smile, "I am Khloe, a helper spirit of Lady Demeter, and Greenwood Town's guardian spirit. You are more than welcome to build a den under the hill, just be careful of how you build it. The hill is stronger than it looks, but the spring is still delicate. If you have anything to ask, you can always ask me." With her magic, she formed a hand of leaves and gave the three soft pats, "Welcome to your new home, little ones."

The Chimera siblings respectfully bowed to her, acknowledging her words and status in their hearts. As magical beasts, they were much closer to nature than most races, save for elves, so the natural aura that Khloe had made them respect her from the bottom of their hearts. From the expressions of their eyes, they were bordering on thinking of her as a mother.

Seran smiled, giving the three some scratches, "Alright, big brother has to go and do some things around the city. You can stay here with Khloe if you want to." The trio nodded and lay on the ground in front of the spring, quietly awaiting Khloe's continuation of her song. With a chuckle, he bade farewell to the spirit before heading back down the hill.

About halfway down, he could hear her song beginning anew.

---

On the main road from the northern gate, the first few streets consisted of merchants, restaurants, smithies and the like. Most of these came from the residents who opened up their own places, while a handful of the merchant shops were made by companies who wanted to partake in a new kingdom's growth. While the town was on the smaller side currently, it was suspected that it wouldn't stay that way for long once travelers came flocking to the place that gave everyone a new chance at life. Some had even taken to calling it the City of Opportunity, as such a chance was next to impossible to find elsewhere.

Walking down the main road, Seran attempted to take in the sights of the new town, as it had grown a lot since the last time he returned. Of course, it was next to impossible for him to do so peacefully, as many recognized him from earlier, riding in on a lion while playing an unusual musical instrument. Some of the more astute had noticed the attitudes that the policemen had towards Seran as well. This likely meant he was a very influential figure in the town, despite his unique entrance.

An older man, bordering on his 60s based off his appearance, asked Seran, "You have a good voice, kid. Even when I worked in the capital of the Everd Kingdom as a palace cook, I've never heard such a voice except for a handful of occasions when the youngest princess sang in the palace."

Flattered but not to a narcissistic level, Seran shrugged, "I only sing for fun, so I am nowhere near the skill level of someone who has trained to sing for their entire life. If my singing can cheer up one person, I've already done more than I expected."

His response made the man think of him as very mature for his age, and he asked if he planned to sing in public again. "If you did, you could certainly make a lot of money."

"For money? No. I don't work that way. I'll do it for fun. Inspiration is a fickle thing, it is fleeting and hard to find by yourself. If several people want to take the path of music and make it their passion through my performance, I'll be happy."

"You sound like you've experienced quite a lot, despite being so young... Ah, I was too curious and didn't think of courtesy. I should really introduce myself, as I started this conversation in the first place. My name is Gordon Aglierri, former palace cook, now the owner of the local Star Spring Restaurant. If you'd like to, I'd be happy to have you perform there."

With a kind smile at the honest intentions of Gordon's words and demeanor, Seran said, "I'd be happy to. My name is Seran Greenwood, pleased to meet you."

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