Seran stayed on Eleanor's heels on the way to the chief's house, which was the only stone building in the village, along with being twice as big as the others. Apparently, it was meant to be used as a shelter in case of an attack, as the founder, Edric Greenwood, had a cellar dug out.
"Once upon a time, our tiny village had only 3 people to protect it: my father, my brother, and my father's childhood friend and war buddy, Uncle Shaun. The Dreamless Savannah was much more dangerous back then, and we were constantly being attacked by magic beasts. 3 years of living off everything we could get later, our guardian spirit came and protected us, as they have since... I'm getting nostalgic thinking about it," Eleanor sighed as she pushed her memories aside. "Anyway, the current chief is of the fifth generation and is my brother's great-great-grandson. Eamon was just like our father, a natural leader, and it seems to run in the family. Meanwhile, I'm the one keeping their heads on straight."
The young boy nodded as he listened to Eleanor talk about the past, her family and the chief. He rarely made any noises, except for some surprised noises at some of the things he saw here and there. It didn't take very long to reach the chief's house, to which Eleanor unceremoniously opened the door and said loudly, "Etienne, where are you?" She glared around the house.
Through a doorway came a lightly tanned man only a few inches taller than Eleanor, roughly 5.9ft (180cm) tall, with dark brown hair and green eyes. His face and physique made him look no older than 40, yet his eyes had a childlike spark to them. "I'm coming, nan, I'm coming." Just like the rest of the villagers, he wore simple clothes, except for the leather boots on his feet. Seeing Seran, he smiled and held out his hand rather warmly, "Nice to meet you, Seran. I am the Greenwood Village Chief, Etienne Greenwood."
Seran awkwardly shook his hand, "Nice to meet you too, sir... I'm sorry about the trouble I've caused."
Etienne laughed, "No worries. If anything, I think we'd have more trouble if we didn't save you. I don't think I'll survive a rampage of angry women if I let a kid die."
"And you'd better remember that, young man, or nan will add a bump to your forehead," said Eleanor, staring pointedly at the chief, who immediately held his hands over his head. Apparently, he'd taken more than a few knocks to the head before.
Shifting awkwardly in place, Seran asked, "I-is it okay if I live in the village..? I don't exactly have a home anymore..."
Etienne was about to answer when the old herbalist cut in, "Definitely. You can live here, there's an empty room that used to be my brother's before he became chief. It's been empty for a long time."
The chief shook his head with a smile, knowing that his nan had made her choice and wouldn't let him change it. Besides, he had wanted the young lad to stay anyway. "Just like nan said, you can stay here. Until she approves of you to be able to help around the village, you don't have to help with the fields or other tasks the children handle, nor can you go exploring the forest. That said, there's not much to do around here. You'll have to come up with your own entertainment, just like the rest of us. Understood, Seran?" When the boy nodded, Etienne clapped his hands and said, "Good, then it's settled. From now on, you are a Greenwood Village resident. If nan approves, you can go explore the village, but not outside it."
"That's fine, a little exploration of his new home is okay. But if you go outside the village, kiddo, this granny will give you a couple knocks to the head." The old herbalist held up her cane with a smile that wasn't a smile, causing Seran to nod hastily as he followed her out, waving to Etienne as he did.
Sitting in a wooden chair, Etienne watched them through the window next to him, "A good kid, that one. He just might be the one that the guardian spirit was looking for, the one prophecized to change our little village into an empire." Looking towards the sky, he muttered, "The Oracle never said when it would happen, only that it would. Still, even if he isn't, this will always be his home."
Seran meandered through the village, looking at the scenery and taking in the sights of his new home. Eleanor had lightly patted him on the head after they left and told him to go look around. Everything attracted his interest, despite the many things he'd seen before. It's probably because this was his home now, while everything else was just the places he had to look at whilst he lived in the slums.
Suddenly, startling Seran, the system said, [I've got some good news and some bad news.]
Nearly cursing out loud, Seran thought, "Damn it all, you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
[Just because I've been silent doesn't mean I'm not here, Seran. Anyway, good and bad news for you.]
"What is it about, William?"
[Well, it's about the same thing, really. You know what that is, though.]
"... Tell me the bad news then."
[Bad news is that you still have two more weeks until the system lock ends.]
"Oh, thank fuck. It's been two years since we got here... it's about fucking time."
[No kidding. I couldn't even help you most of the time. Anyway, the good news is that your access won't be at a regular user level as it was supposed to be... Apparently, you've been given the developer and administrator controls... along with a lot of ridiculous things like being able to edit skill grades, attributes, and even alter the world around you far more than just the original kingdom management you had before with user-grade access... Don't know how it happened, but it's probably a good thing!]
Seran nearly fell over when he heard this news, followed by barely keeping himself from jumping up and down in pure joy. "I can finally stop being so weak! Two years of weakness and starvation will finally end!"
[Two more weeks, Seran, two more weeks. Now that you've got a good home, that time will fly by.]
Seran sat down on a rock in the village next to the well in the central square, doing his best to calm his racing heart while he looked back on everything he'd been through until now.
It'd been two full years since he was thrown into this world, so to speak, and he'd spent every minute of it in poverty low enough to make him steal just to be able to survive. Several times he'd come close to dying from starvation or from being beaten by slum gangs, and even when he wasn't dying, he was damn close to being just a stretch from it. From slum gangs to nobles, and even guards, Seran was pretty sure he'd felt the feet of all of them at least once.
Seran only remembered one thing about how he got into this world, and that was it involved a dimensional tear appearing suddenly in his house. Outside of feeling his body being shredded into dust, and watching his house suffering the same fate, all he could think of was, "Why me!?" He never got an answer to that question, or to why it happened on his 21st birthday. His family, to his relief, hadn't been home at the time, or they would have joined him.
Instead, he woke up in the body of a boy who'd just died of starvation with one of those systems that appear in novels and things like them. The system was sentient, with its own personality, and the two of them didn't know why, or how they were even together, or alive for that matter. However, they both more-or-less accepted that they were bound together, and all they could do was do their best to survive... until the system's abilities suddenly, and mysteriously, locked up. While he had managed to gain a lot within the first week he was in this world that didn't require the system, the loss of it for two years had cost him a lot.
Without the help of the system, his rate of successful theft had dropped so drastically that it was less than 5% possible for him to pull it off, no matter what it was. The fact that he survived in and of itself was almost miraculous.
It was about four days ago that he'd finally been given what could only be called a heaven-sent chance at escaping his current life as a petty slum thief. All that he'd known was the city he had arrived in, and he'd never been lucky enough to read books to learn about the world. Thankfully, he'd already learned how to read and speak all of the world's languages, so he could still learn from hearsay. A merchant caravan was planning to go towards the human city closest to the Primeval Forest, a fortress city named Lightwood, after the ancient general who defended the then motte-and-bailey castle-town from a month-long siege by a horde of orcs and ogres nearly 800 years ago.
He'd heard of Lightwood Fortress before, and how it was one of the kingdom's few recruiting locations without much prejudice. As it was his only hope to change his life for the better, Seran took a chance and asked, after nearly half a day in a kowtow before the caravan, if he could ride along with them. He explained how he wanted to be a soldier, and that only Lightwood Fortress would allow him to become one. After Seran vowed not to touch anything without permission, the caravan leader eventually took pity on him and allowed him to ride on the outside of the caravan, on the roof.
However, bad luck seemed to follow him everywhere. A rough storm approached during their first day into their journey, with very strong winds. The merchants and their guards had grown used to such conditions and quickly began to strap everything to the ground no matter where they were standing. A large covered structure, similar to a modern horse trailer but far longer, made of wood and nearly hollow, had its wheels pulled off in practiced ease for the horses to take shelter inside.
Seran, despite his inexperience, did his best to help. While he was only useful for small things like passing ropes and stakes around, making sure the ropes were taut, and relaying information between the carriages, several of the guards appreciated that the young slum child was brave enough to help with such strenuous tasks. During one information relay, a gust of wind suddenly slammed like a tidal wave into the caravan. While most of the guards were prepared, and those that weren't were still capable of recovering their stability, and none of their merchandise was lost, Seran's malnourished and weakened body was light enough to get yanked off his feet and thrown far, far away, his scream of terror almost drowned out by the raging storm. The guards could only watch with mixed emotions as the courageous boy was dragged away by misfortune.
Sunlight was the first thing that Seran experienced when he recovered. He'd passed out after the windstorm's impressive gust had sent him nearly a kilometer between the repetitive bounces he suffered on impact with the ground. He honestly thought that he was dead at first, but he managed to accept his reality... that he was lost in an endless expanse of grass...
That is how Seran found himself in the Dreamless Savannah, two days prior. A boy that had planned to change his misfortune had instead been forcibly taken from his hopes.
As for how he survived those two days in the Dreamless Savannah, he didn't know, as most of it was a blur of exhaustion. What he knew now, though, was that he was given that second chance that he'd desperately wished for.
Now, he could finally change his life for the better.