Editor: Areth Kyntaul
It took a long time to enter the city. Perhaps the guards were very strict with their inspections for fear of refugees entering the city. It took us a long time to stand before the guards.
When we reached them, they reacted with shock when they saw Veirya. They quickly saluted her and respectfully greeted her, “Greetings, Lord Veirya!”
“Uhm.” Veirya returned the greeting in a very stern manner.
The guards quickly made way and helped her enter. They didn’t check our identities, or Leah’s.
‘I was initially worried about Leah’s identity being exposed, but it looks like nobody will check her as long as she’s with Veirya. If we look at it this way, Veirya’s very useful then.’
We walked into the city. Inside the large stone city wall was a simple blue-stone street. Some of the bricks on the ground no longer had rough surfaces, due to the friction accumulated over the years. The soil between the bricks had been filled.
On both sides were buildings that were obviously different from the colour of the buildings behind the street. They were slightly newer.
‘It looks like this is where the demons first broke through and this must be where Veirya killed that massive demon in one slash. I might be stepping on a brick with the demon’s blood on it for all we know.’
‘This city was a lot more plain than I expected it to be.’ I had thought that this so-called border-town would be prospering, but the buildings inside are very ordinary.
The colours of the stone are old and simple, as well. It’s a deep mellow blue colour. Not only were the edges of the city like that, but the entire city’s colour looked dull.
The tallest building seemed to be the chapel’s clock tower. And you guessed it; it was built using blue-stone as well.
However, the massive clock shined with gold as though it was made from gold. Otherwise, there were no pretty structures.
All the people on the streets were draped in navy or black robes with their hoods up as they moved about quickly. Nobody was willing to stop.
‘I guess they’re patrol guards. I feel that even if those refugees got here, it would appear too luxurious.’
There were people on both sides of the streets loudly recounting things that happened recently.
They wore dark-red robes and stood on boxes as they recounted events in cadences, like poetry or music. But they seemed to be telling the news of happenings close by.
I was originally very curious and listened in, but I soon realised something was wrong.
When they mentioned the refugees nearby, they claimed them to be heretics who, by right, should be subjected to punishment by starvation. Then they talked about how heeding God’s advice, and converting to their religion, was the only way to wash off their sins and be fed. They claimed that the heretics shouldn’t be fed until they were converted.
I suddenly felt something was wrong, as they didn’t have the appearance of preachers on the street.
They seemed to be people connected to religion. As opposed to saying that they were informing everybody of recent occurrences, they were preaching religion. If you preached religion using this sort of vile method back in the world I came from, you would be treated as a cult and arrested by the police.
I looked at the people around us.
Everybody was dressed basically the same. They were essentially dressed the same way as these people in red robes. Even ordinary people had to wear robes that were almost white outside. Further, all of them looked like they were in a rush, having imposing expressions.
As a matter of fact, none of them stopped to speak.
The shops around us seemed to be some sort of inn or diner. You would find the most diners and hotels next to a train station, while normal businessmen would try and open a tavern here by the city entrance, right? Even that town of ours has a tavern. Here, however, there was none.
The officer didn’t tell us anything when we entered the city, but I noticed the sheet of paper in his hand was a list of things that people should be careful of. One of them was that we were not permitted to be outside at night, nor were we permitted to drink.
With regards to the first part, it’s understandable, since it could be explained as being in place to keep the people safe while there are refugees around. However, the no drinking order is a little weird.
I initially thought that it was because of the food problem that people were forbidden from taking food to go drinking. Now I think that it might have to do with this religion.
This religion, which I don’t know about, is the true administrator of this city and they aren’t just controlling the city. They’re controlling the people’s thinking as well. The creed of this religion has everybody lead lives like that of ascetics.
“Veirya, do you know this religion?”
‘Well, I guess that answer was a given…’
But Veirya didn’t stop there. She continued, “But it’s a state religion that Queen Sisi personally established.”
“Ah…” I nodded and then asked, “We won’t run into any trouble then, will we?”
‘I get it. Trouble isn’t a thing for Miss One-slash Veirya here.’
We continued deeper into the city.
Veirya was like a celebrity. Wherever she went, people respectfully called her name, and she would give them a very formal salute. The people made way with their faces showing that they held her in awe.
When she walked past, the religious people in the red robes would stop preaching and loudly exclaim, “Comrades, turn around and look at humanity’s heroine, our heroine. She is the heroine, Veirya who slew the Demon King! Please give her our most sincere bow!”
I was flustered, since there were people bowing and clapping. I felt like I was basking in her glory.
Well, lucky nobody noticed my true identity. Leah was a little afraid, but she watched the crowd of people somewhat cheerfully and sat up shyly in my arms. I looked at Leah’s small head as she sat in front of me and then at Veirya who sat straight up. The scene gave me an odd feeling.
‘Doesn’t this feel like we’re a family of three? Well, except that Veirya and my roles were reversed…’
I looked at Veirya. She was expressionless. It looks like she doesn’t share the sentiment…
We walked down the street and reached a path with a dark alley. There was a wooden plaque hung in the middle of the tiny street.
Veirya led us in.
There was a courtyard but wasn’t large. We dismounted and as two people came over to lead our horses over to the small stable.
I looked over in the direction of the stables. The horses in the stables were relatively short and small, and they were covered in thick fur. Standard horses for cold areas.
Veirya confidently walked into the door opposite the stables.
Leah and I followed her.
Leah scanned the empty places around curiously. In the middle was a well with two wooden barrels tossed to one side. The shape of the rope looked like it could snap any moment. We walked into a small ordinary two-story building.
I thought I had gone blind as soon as we entered.
‘Why is it so dark inside?’
I heard footsteps approaching, and, a moment later, a candle was lit.
Veirya stood at the counter and behind it was the face of an old man. He looked so old I virtually couldn’t see his face. All I could see were his wrinkles. He grabbed a key from underneath and then said, “Upstairs. Middle.”
“Ah, no, please give us two rooms.” I quickly spoke out.
Though it was disappointing to not be able to share a room with Veirya, I couldn’t let Leah and Veirya share a room, or else I wouldn’t be able to cover for Leah tonight. If she’s exposed, there will most likely be a murder case. Therefore, it was better for us to be separated for the sake of our lives.
The old man looked at us grumpily and exclaimed, “What does a family of three need two rooms for?!”
Veirya cut him off very resolutely and bluntly… She looked at the elder in front of her and said, “No. I’m not related to them. Please give them a room.”
He just got two sales instead of one and yet he glared at me like I took advantage of him or something…
He picked up another key and then said, “To her left.”
“Thank you.” Veirya handed me the other key.
She then looked at Leah, so I immediately grabbed Leah’s hand and shook my head.
Veirya looked slightly disappointed, but I wasn’t going to give in on this. I can’t let Leah share a room with Veirya. Otherwise, something really will happen!
We went upstairs to see the rooms. It was a standard two-bed room. Though things looked old downstairs, the rooms were quite good.
I tested out the bed. It wasn’t a mattress like in the modern-day.
‘Looks like beds are wooden planks here.’
Leah, on the other hand, cheerfully looked around. Her curiosity as a child made her particularly happy about this foreign environment.
“Papa, are we staying here tonight?”
I stroked Leah’s head then with a smile replied, “Leah, you must stay here in the afternoon as Papa has to go work.”
Leah pouted unhappily and then asked, “Don’t wanna. Leah wants to follow you, Papa! Leah will be a good girl and not cause trouble. Leah will be a good girl, so bring Leah along, okay, Papa? Okay?”
I looked at her puppy-eye look. I really can’t reject Leah.
I thought about it. ‘Leaving Leah alone in the room here doesn’t seem too safe. It’s not too dangerous for her to take a look around in the market at noon, I don’t think.’
“Alright then. But you must be a good girl, Leah.”
“Uhm! Leah will definitely be a very good girl!!”