Together, Cerys, James, and the others descended the hill and made their way along the road between the fields. Cerys was practically skipping down the path, so excited was she to be surrounded by what she called idyllic beauty. Some of the farmers and farmhands stopped to watch them pass; a few others gave Jame an honored greeting.
“The son of just a baron and you get that much respect?” Himeko asked after she observed several instances of bowing and honored remarks.
“You say, ‘just a baron,’ Himeko, but there is something that you do not understand. My father is renowned for his style of governance.” James took a breath and explained, “Have you noticed? This place– Carawick– is not completely the same as the medieval kingdoms that Earth used to have. Our people are happy, healthy, even wealthy, I daresay. They do not face the same hardships that feudal peasants did. It is hard work out in the fields, yes, but they have property and rights, they have food, even money to spare. Their homes are bigger, cleaner, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These things are possible because my father takes good care of the barony.”
“It is good to hear that he is so benevolent,” Himeko replied. The she looked ahead at the way her friend was frolicking with such energy. “He will need that good heart in order to deal with Cerys’s behavior.”
“It’s not so bad,” James said with a smile. “She seems happy here.”
“Can she stay here?” Peter cut in. “You are welcome to keep her.”
“I can hear you!” Cerys called back before James could reply. “This place is amazing, but I don’t think Mom could do without me.”
“I’m sure she’d allow it if she knew it made you happy. Then I can have your room.”
Himeko giggled as they went on arguing, the typical teenage sibling rivalry. He brothers hardly ever teased her, and when they did it was nothing compared to the back-and-forth between Cerys and Peter, so it was fun to watch them. She hoped, quietly and at the back of her mind, that she would be able to get back to Earth in the end, if just to see her older brothers again.
The village that they came to was surrounded by high wooden walls, the towers at the gates manned by guards in stiff-looking leather armor. They greeted James cheerfully and held the games for him to pass inside. Then Cerys had before her a plethora of buildings, some shops where the merchants were finishing up for the day, some workshops where the blacksmiths and weavers were completing one more project. There were houses here and there, some of them, Cerys imagined to herself, the upper level of the workshops and stores.