Leah forced her way in between us, and then pushed Veirya away with all her might. She then threw herself into my arms again and hugged me tightly. She then raised her head up and looked at me angrily with her small face. She punched me in my gut with her small fist. I smiled helplessly as I stroked her head. I looked at Veirya slightly concerned. She stood opposite me and flicked her head before sheathing her sword. When she looked up again, her face had returned to its original emotionless look. She looked at us, but focused on Leah in particular before checking herself out.
I couldn’t make sense of what she was thinking.
But then she walked up to our side and continued on without sparing any attention for the townsfolk who were trembling. I followed behind her and asked: “Do you know where to go?”
Veirya turned her head around and gave me a serious nod that couldn’t be any more serious.
Where are you even going off to then……?
I looked at her hopelessly, scratched my head and then asked: “I know where to go, but aren’t you planning to say something to these townsfolk? You are the mayor of the town now, aren’t you? Wait, you’re the lord of this region. Don’t you intend to appease the people after what just happened?”
Her response was specially quick and simple. I get it. She’s not a good talker. I might as well give a speech instead of asking her to appease the people with a speech. However, I don’t intend to take up the post of her adjutant. I’m just her slave.
I figured that out from what just happened. Veirya and I aren’t a team like we were before. I had some independence before. My superior wasn’t in an ideal position to object to my decision when I made decisions within certain parameters. However, the Veirya here is completely different. I’m Veirya’s slave so she can easily nullify my decisions, and I won’t be able to object to her decisions.
If she had killed the group back there, what would I have been able to say? I can’t do anything, so I would’ve only been able to watch her slaughter them and watch my efforts go to waste. I didn’t agree on it with Veirya first, but will she listen to my opinions?
I led Veirya to that building. Though Veirya had arrived at her workplace as the lord of the region, nobody cared. The people who were captured and brought here barely managed to escape so they wanted to head home. Nobody cared for the new lord who arrived here.
Veirya wasn’t bothered by that. It looks like she still doesn’t really know how to be a lord. In her eyes, ruling this town was a meaningless endeavour. It was just a new home to her since she considered herself a soldier. But there doesn’t appear to be an appropriate office here.
After sorting those people out and the time it took for us to walk around, it was gradually beginning to get dark. It’s probably around five or six in the evening now, right? But it gets dark early because we’re in the north.
We were hit with a blast of incredibly cold air as soon as we entered and it was littered with debris. There’s bound to be all sorts of garbage if they locked up a group of people here and didn’t let anyone leave. It looks like the deserters didn’t care either. But the entire manor was now stinking to the high heavens and littered with garbage. Somewhat disgusted, Leah hid behind me. I didn’t want to take another step inside either. When I saw so many people present the first time I entered, I didn’t feel it was so messy and dirty, but now that it was empty, the disgusting air was distinctly evident.
It didn’t look like Veirya minded the environment so much though as she walked into the hall with big strides. She ignored the environment directly around her and checked the surroundings before looking back at us and asked: “Are we going to be living here from now on?”
“No, I think this is just a gathering spot…… The lord’s office and living quarters should be to the rear.”
My guess is that this large hall must be where the lord holds conferences and banquets. Let’s ignore this place for now. Of course, we can’t just completely neglect it. However, Veirya didn’t bring any helpers with her so if it needs to be dealt with, we’ll need to ask the townsfolk to maintain it then. But I don’t think we can get it done today.
I covered Leah’s nose gently. The stench here was indeed very problematic. We then walked toward a dark path at the rear. When we reached the door, Veirya pushed it open. Behind it was a corridor and at the end of it was a house positioned horizontally. Both sides of the long corridor were ventilated. The corridor was supported on pillars. Looking at it now, the house is a square-shape. There was a large flower garden and fountain in the centre. Unfortunately, the fountain was broken and water no longer came out from it while there was only loess left in the flower garden.
It doesn’t seem like this place was luxurious in the past either……
I crossed the long corridor. Leah scanned the empty space in the centre curiously. She looked at me with envy and asked: “Papa, can we grow flowers here?”
“Flowers? Sure. But you won’t be able to during this season and in this temperature.”
I looked at Leah who was in front of me and rubbed her head. Leah looked slightly disappointed, but she knew that it couldn’t be helped as well. She gently grabbed the corner of my shirt gently and softly asked: “When I was there, I couldn’t see any flowers. I’ve always wanted to see them. I heard that flowers come in many colours and types. Is that true?”
She looked upward and into my eyes. She was the most beautiful flower in this entire winter. I felt sorry for her and pinched her face. I answered her question in a serious tone: “Yes. Papa promises to grow flowers here when the weather allows for it. Papa will plant all sorts of flowers with different colours for you.”
Leah looked at me and then hugged my arm cheerfully as she shouted with excitement. I nodded and then held her against my body. I didn’t listen into her past in detail nor do I intend to go learn about it. Her dark past is in the past to her now. I won’t let Leah go through anything like that again. Leah is very lucky. Her childhood is only starting now. I will let Leah experience some bliss from now. We walked up to the entrance. Veirya touched the door then looked back at us and stated: “It’s locked.”
Uhm, it’s quite understandable. The question is who has the key now. So what do we do about the door now? Don’t tell me we have to go back to that stinky place to sleep…… Hell no. I’d rather sleep outside than sleep in that stinky place. It’s just cold outside and I’ll probably get sick.
Before I could think of where to sleep outside, Veirya booted the door, breaking the lock and opening the door.
I looked at her blankly. Welp, I’ve seen that before. She could easily kick the big gate of the town open, so this small door is nothing to her.
But then I froze up after it opened. It was a living quarter. There was a corridor at the forefront but it was packed full of burlap bags. And it looks like the burlap bags were filled to the brim. I opened a bag with curiosity and checked inside. Veirya didn’t seem to care and just walked into the house.
Hey, hey, hey, aren’t you going to check out the house before entering?
I opened the bag in front of me and was shocked by what I found. Inside was paddy. Yes, it was paddy. But it looks like it was still hadn’t been submerged. It looked like it had been harvested not too long ago.
I saw fur and dried meat in the bags. Some of the meat wasn’t completely dry so as soon as I opened it, the smell of rotten meat hit me.
I looked further and noticed that there was a huge pile of cloth-bags in the corridor. Isn’t there a little too much food here? I would agree that it’s normal to have this much food present if this was the supply warehouse, but this is the lord’s residence. Why would food be piled up here? Could it be that the troops brought them here? That would be reasonable since they were intending to fight a war of attrition here anyway. I’m guessing the food here was collected from the townsfolk. If that’s the case then the townsfolk shouldn’t have any food right now. Those troops definitely didn’t leave behind any plans to plant crops which means that most of the townsfolk were now empty-handed.
If that’s the case then we wouldn’t starve to death, but what of the townsfolk? Without food in winter, they’ll die for sure. It looks like the food here must be distributed. As aforementioned, no people means that there’s no lord. Veirya must have these troops.
Leah looked at the bags in front of her startled and in a surprised tone asked: “Papa!! Isn’t this our food? Did those people give it to us?!”
I shook my head and replied: “This is their food, not ours.”
“But nobody would know if we had some, would they?”
Leah looked at the marinated meat cutlets with the desire to gobble them in her eyes. I looked at her and Veirya. My gut feeling tells me that if these two were to eat then they would eat a fair bit. But if we don’t eat now, we won’t have anything to eat. Veirya didn’t bring food. I thought there would be food here for certain, but it looks like we have a lot of food reserved here.
Charging some taxes as a lord is perfectly normal. So it should be fine if we had a bit now.
But I need to ask Veirya for her thoughts first. I looked at her and she looked back at me. She then said: “I can’t cook.”
“…… You mean we can eat this stuff?”
“Why not? Isn’t it ours?”
Veirya looked nonchalant. I looked at her. Yeah, nonchalant for sure. Veirya is the same as Leah. Or rather, Veirya is just a bigger Leah other than being strong. I sighed and then explained: “If I’m right, this food was snatched from the townsfolk.”
“Isn’t it normal for the people to support the army?”
“First, the people do their best to support the army. Second, we aren’t an army right now. You’re the lord of this region. A lord can only levy so much. Killing hens for their eggs is a mistake.”
“Killing hens? We get to eat chicken?!”
“….. No, Leah, I was just making an analogy……”
“Let’s find a chicken and kill it then.”
“Stop! Stop! Stop!! You’re a lord, not a bandit!! Don’t just draw your sword for everything!”
You know what? I feel like these two are two kids.
But since they can’t cook, it looks like I’m the only one who can cook then. I actually can cook quite well since I’d starve if I couldn’t cook when I was alone. Other than lacking condiments here, it’s fine otherwise. I can adjust the taste even without spices. Salt is the only thing I can use. I’ve got lots of meat and something similar to tofu, so I guess I’ll cook up some stew then.
Though there’s no rice here, I found something similar to substitute it with. It’s white and fluffy but not long strips. It should be edible though, I guess.
“Just help me light up the fire in the kitchen.”
I don’t know what the kitchen is like. I just carried a big pile of ingredients over. I never expected the stoves here to be similar to what I was familiar with. The fire place was the type where you stack up a mound. The stove was on top and there was a saucepan. But honestly, I think dishes made in a wok taste better. Well, I can’t be picky in this situation. Veirya crouched down to the side and lit the fire up. I stood at the chopping board, picked up the kitchen knife and thought to myself over and over before putting it back down.
The knife couldn’t be used anymore. It was completely rusty.
I looked at Veirya’s long sword and asked: “Veriya, can you help me cut these vegetables and the meat here into pieces?”
She looked over my way and nodded before walking up to me.
The kitchen wasn’t large so we were squished up in the tiny kitchen. I did my best to be careful not to touch Veirya, but she needed to swing her long-sword after all so I had nowhere to hide myself, thereby being forced to stand to her left. But then that meant that we were glued together.
I tried my best to tilt my body but her face was right next to mine. Her scent was literally on me. She focused on cutting up the meat. Her left elbow was pressed against my chest gently causing me to not know what I was saying.
It gave off the vibe we were flirting with each other but at the same time, blatantly awkward.
That’s when a tiny body squeezed its way in between us. Veirya and I both froze up and then looked toward it. Leah hugged my belly. She looked at Veirya vigilantly. Veirya lowered her head to look down at her and then she shifted her eyes back to me. After a short interim, she placed her long-sword down and then exited the kitchen. My body instinctively grabbed hold of her but then Leah’s swift eyes caught me and she grabbed my arm with an angry expression. I smiled helplessly, lowered my head to kiss her on her forehead and explain: “Go on somewhere. Papa has to cook now.”
“Don’t wanna…… I want to watch you here papa……”
Leah pouted and her frown formed a “W” shape. She sat down on the kitchen floor. It looks like she’s not leaving.
I hopelessly chuckled. I’ll just have to cook under Leah’s watch then.
Not long after, I placed the finished dishes on the table. Beef stew can be considered the most basic dish. If accompanied with piping hot rice, I bet it would taste pretty good. I prepared three spoons for us since there were no chopsticks here.
I placed the kettle of water on the stove that was still burning to heat the water up while we sat at the table. Leah and I sat on one side with just the flames from the fireplace behind us as lighting. In front of us however, was a table of incredibly alluring fragrances and heat. That’s when Leah picked up her spoon with anticipation, scooped up a big-full spoon of meat and stew, and poured it onto her plate.
“Papa!!! This… is so delicious!!”
Leah covered her mouth and wore a look of utter disbelief after her first bite.
“That’s good. Eat plenty. There’s still a lot.”
I scrubbed her head with a smile. The feeling of accomplishment from cooking comes from the praise your family gives and the bliss they feel from it, which is exactly what I have accomplished here. Seeing Leah smile so cheerfully filled me with satisfaction.
On the other side, Veirya curiously took a bite while I looked at her nervously. However, it looks like she didn’t chew her food at all. She just started to knock back mouthful after mouthful.
I cooked a lot.
Usually it would be enough for five or six people.
But it looks like we won’t have any left-overs with the effort Leah and Veirya are putting into eating it.
After our meal, I looked at Leah who lay on my thigh like a kitten with a look of satisfaction as she giggled softly. Opposite me was Veirya who had wiped her mouth and stood up. She said: “You will be responsible for our three meals every day in future.”
And thus, I went from a slave to a chef.