Editor: Areth Kyntaul
Veirya followed us after she found out that we were leaving.
Despite Leah being very displeased about it, Veirya insisted on coming. It was something we couldn’t refuse.
I wrapped Leah’s small face up with her scarf. It’s best not to let people find out Leah is a succubus. That is especially true in a city where the presence of this religion is so prominent. This way, we won’t attract attention. Fortunately, we don’t particularly stand out in our military uniform.
I held Leah’s hand with my right hand. Leah cheerfully scanned both sides of the streets. However, there really was nothing to see along this route.
Veirya walked with her right hand on her sword handle in a very heroic manner.
This street, which wasn’t decorated, was so bland that even Leah quickly lost interest. These blue-stones and buildings couldn’t attract a child’s attention after their interest had expired.
Besides the fact that it couldn’t attract a child’s gaze, not even I wanted to stay in this city any longer. This sort of laborious life doesn’t suit me. I looked at Veirya.
She blends in with this city, since her emotionless, stern nature was like this dead and boring city. They complement each other.
Leah turned her head to look at me, poked her tongue and said, “Papa, this city is so boring… there’s nothing new…”
I nodded and replied, “It’s all right, Leah. If you see something new and novel, Papa will buy it for you.”
While I said that, I honestly don’t have money. If I want to buy something, I’ll have to ask Veirya for money. But I looked at Veirya and knew that she didn’t have money, either.
‘I’d bet that Veirya, who is not interested in money, is poorer than I am. I still do have the gold coin Lucia gave me, after all.’
‘If we get the chance, I want to buy some new clothes for Leah. Leah doesn’t even have underwear right now.’
The market is next to the square we walked past. This market doesn’t look like it’s prospering in any capacity, though. It was essentially an alley with all sorts of shops, none of which had plaques.
They simply wrote what they sold on a wooden piece of plank. However, there was currently a long line from inside the alley that stretched to the square. Soldiers were patrolling the area since there were so many people.
I was slightly surprised.
‘What motivated everybody to line up in this city at this time? Were they lined up to go to the chapel to make a donation or pray?’
We walked past the line. I wanted to see what exactly is happening here.
When I had almost reached the front of the line, a kid wearing an apron walked out of a store holding a wooden board. The kid shouted to the people, “We have sold out today. Everyone, we have sold out and have no more food. We should have some more tomorrow. Please return home, everyone. Today’s food has been sold out!”
The crowd shouted with dissatisfaction. But what could they do?
I watched the long line disperse, feeling absolutely stunned.
‘So they were lining up to buy food?! Is this how people have to buy food in this city or is there only enough food to sell a little every day? Are they in the same situation as our food ticket system?’
“Did you hear that? The food for today has all been sold… Ah, no… It’s Lord Veirya!!” The young man looked at us with displeasure, since we didn’t leave. Once he saw Veirya, though, he trembled with fear and quickly went to bow, nearly smashing his head on the ground.
Veirya nodded while looking at him and said, “We want to buy food.”
“Umm… That… but we have already run out of food for today… how about coming early tom-…”
“Let us see your boss.” I grabbed Veirya’s shoulder after she had nodded and intended to leave.
It’s not time to be heading back now.
‘He did say that they had no more food, but a food store requires food to make money. Everyone is panicking right now because there’s no food. By selling just a bit every day, they can maintain a stable price. It might be a tactic they’re using to make money. We can’t leave now.’
“Our… our boss is not present…”
“We’ll wait, then.”
“He has gone to another place to coordinate things to procure food…”
I looked at the young man with my eyes narrowed and threatened, “I’ll speak to whoever is in charge currently. What? Can’t Lord Veirya, who slew the Demon King, see your boss? Is your boss a bigger figure than Her Majesty, now? Shall I inform Her Majesty about this?”
The young man was clearly frightened as he looked to Veirya’s longsword fearfully and gulped his saliva. He then stuttered, “N-No… No… We umm… It’s just… really is not…”
“My, my… It truly is an honour for you to visit our modest store, Lord Veirya. Please, tell us what you need. We may not have much food, but we will do our best to fulfil your request, Lord Veirya.”
A fat man quickly stepped out of the store. He didn’t wear a hat. He touched his head and looked at us with his eyes narrow and a smile. He wore thicker clothing. Though it wasn’t colourful, a silver scaleshaped,piece of jewellery gently swayed in front of his chest.
Maybe that was like a logo for merchants, but it’s a little ironic. Merchants rely on manipulating the scales to gain more so they wouldn’t be trying to keep the scales even. Or perhaps what the scale symbolised was whoever gave them more money would be the one they leaned toward.
I looked at him. I chuckled and asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be out procuring food?”
“Ah, that is what we say to avoid being harassed by people. You must understand our reasons, right, sir? We, merchants who sell food, are in the most danger at times like this.” The food merchant before us laughed.
I didn’t plan to step on his tail for it right now, either. It’s just a trivial matter. Furthermore, this can be a condition I use when we negotiate. The boss must be panicking to have come out now, after all.
I looked at the boss in front of me and said, “Let’s be upfront then. We want to purchase food.”
“Come in first, come in first.” The boss smiled and let us into the building.
There was only one long table in the store. On the side were a few chairs. A candle was lit up and placed on the table along with an account book, pen, and ink.
I made sure to inspect the interior of the food store. There are a few empty bags on the ground. I couldn’t see any other foods.
‘Well, it’s only reasonable. Food wouldn’t usually be placed here. It must be in the warehouse.’
“We want to purchase food.”
We sat around the table and came right out with it. The boss sniffled and then smiled helplessly before replying, “To be frank, we do not have much food ourselves. As you, too, saw; due to fear, everybody is coming to purchase food. The previous war also meant that we forcefully sold a good amount. Therefore, we do not have much food ourselves. If we run out of food as well, this city will fall into panic.”
“How much can you sell now?”
“Five bags. That is the maximum.”
He looked at me and turned his palms up.
I frowned and replied, “That’s not enough. We need twenty bags.”
“Sir, it is not that we do not want to sell the food. If we were back in last year, I would load up two-hundred bags by the afternoon for you if you asked, let alone twenty bags. But things are different, now. All the food in the north was taken by the army, to combat the Demon King, this year. We do not have much food on hand. Did you see the refugees outside? If we were heretics, we would not have any food ourselves. These five bags are out of consideration for Lord Veirya. That truly is our best.”
“For how much?”
“One gold coin per beg. I am doing that at a cheaper price for you.”
“You’re scamming us!!”
‘I can’t accept that price! One gold coin for one bag of food? Why don’t you go rob a wealthy mansion or something? What would only cost over a dozen silver coins costs six times more here with you?! You sure we aren’t trading weapons, here?’
“It is not a scam. It truly is difficult to procure food at the moment.” The boss looked at me with a pitiful face and then said, “Food is now controlled by the people in the south. We have to pay whatever they ask for, would you not agree? It currently costs thirty silver coins for one bag of food outside, then another forty-fifty silver coins for transporting them here, so if I do not charge you one gold coin per bag, I will basically make nothing.”
I slowly sat back in my chair and looked at the merchant in front of me. ‘The issue now is that the merchant is insistent on his claim that he has no food and needs to procure them from outside, while the prices are inflated. Honestly, I regret it a little, now. I sold the food to Lucia for far too cheap. I feel like Lucia chose to buy from us because Veirya isn’t aware of the cost of food and food everywhere else is too expensive. Guess we can consider it as being tricked by Lucia.
‘The bigger problem, however, isn’t Lucia, but where we’re going to purchase the twenty bags of food we require. If this boss refuses to admit that he has more food on hand, then we’ll be at a dead end. The only way we can prove he has food stored up is by going to his warehouse. But, I don’t think he’ll ever let us see his warehouse.’
‘Not even Veirya can barge in now, can she? Plus, if Veirya enters the storage during a sensitive time, like this, and takes food from it… It wouldn’t be good, in more than one way. Firstly, we can’t make everyone in this city panic, and we can’t tarnish Veirya’s reputation. If we barge into other merchants’ food warehouses under Veirya’s name and forcibly take food from there, then nobody will be willing to do business with her, once news of it spreads.’
‘We can’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.’
I looked around and then said, “Alright, we’ll think of something else then.”
It’s pointless to discuss this any further at the moment. I stood up and so did the merchant. With a helpless smile, he said, “The times are tough. We cannot help it, either. Hopefully, God will show you the way.”
I shook my head and replied, “If God could show the way, man and dog would be the same. I will only ever believe in myself.”