Editor: Areth Kyntaul
We went to the military camp again.
The Chief came out in just his shirt.
The guards initially refused to let us see him, but Veirya drew her sword leading to all the guards backing off fearfully.
As soon as he heard Veirya wanted to see him, the Chief got up in the middle of his sleep to come out and see her.
To be honest, I initially had not planned on having Veirya draw her sword. Though, in our situation, if she hadn’t, we wouldn’t be allowed to enter. Therefore, I had to let Veirya forcefully barge in.
I’m very lucky to have Veirya with me now. If Veirya wasn’t here, I would have absolutely no way to get an audience with the Chief tonight.
If we dragged it out until tomorrow, the entire town would enter a state of famine.
Although a single day of starvation isn’t worth anything, under the current circumstances, a single day is more than enough to cause a panic. In order to keep the condition under control, I must send food out as soon as possible. It would be best if we could load the carts and dispatch them tomorrow, during the day.
“May I ask what it is that you have all asked to see me for so urgently? Is it an enemy attack, or have you run into some trouble and need us to escort you? I think you would not need our protection, Lord Veirya.” The Chief looked at us with a helpless smile.
Veirya looked at me and then asked, “Do I need to draw my sword?”
“No. If you draw your sword in this situation, it’ll go from a discussion to forcing him.” I pressed my hand on Veirya’s sword handle.
Veirya seemed to be full of pride after being allowed to draw her sword. It was as though she found her purpose in life back there.
The Chief looked at us with astonishment. He quickly stood up and said, “Don’t, don’t, don’t. If you have something to say, let us talk it out. Do not do this. Lord Veirya, if I have done something wrong, I hope you can forgive me and tell me what exactly I did wrong…”
“No, no, no, you’re reading too much into it.”
I clasped my hand on his shoulder and then pressed him down back onto his chair. I sat opposite him and with a smile said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. Rather, we’re very grateful that you showed us the defence blueprint on the map. You helped us a lot. However, I need to discuss something with you. It’s about your family and your soldiers.”
The Chief looked at me with suspicion. He then looked at Veirya, who was seated with an erect posture to the side, nervously.
Leah looked at us with a confused expression, but maybe she didn’t say anything because she was afraid of our current, serious temperament. She obediently sat to one side and sucked on a spherical lolly.
It seemed to have been saved by the Chief for his child, but he had given it to Leah.
I told him not to be tense and then explained, “You should already be aware that the war has ended. You made it to the end of the war, as a victor and survivor, but you’re forced to stay here at this cold place with heretics. You are wasting away time you could spend celebrating your victory, due to the famine. You’ve already achieved victory, but why can’t you return to see your child?”
“What exactly do you want to say?” The Chief finally cut me off.
He looked at me with a frown and said, “Sir, you are correct when you say that I have not reunited with my wife and child, but this is a mission Her Majesty tasked us with. I am a soldier, so I must fulfil my duty. Therefore, it is impossible for me to leave my post, if you want me to leave it, for whatever reason.”
“No, no, no, what are you saying? Lord Veirya is also a dutiful soldier. How could she ask her own comrade to abandon a post of his own accord? What I meant was, do you want to return home via normal means?”
I looked at the man before me and took in a deep breath. I had already tried mentioning what this man wanted most at this moment. What he wanted most was our condition. However, the question was whether or not this condition could motivate him.
I didn’t have any confidence, as I had far too little information. The less information you have, the faster you need to show your cards. The more you drag it out, the more your goal becomes obvious to the other party.
I looked at the Chief in front of me nervously. After he had heard my question, he only needed a few seconds to respond. Those few seconds, however, felt as long as a lifetime to me.
The biggest challenge, though, was for me not to reveal that I was very tense. I maintained my faint smile, but in reality, I knew that my hand was gripping a corner of my cloak tightly.
Victory and defeat will be determined now. The entire town, Leah’s entire future, and my own entire future was dependent on the reaction of the man opposite me, right now. There are no more chances. The army in the city is the only entity left with food. If I can’t obtain it from them, we will basically lose the chance to find food.
With that said, it’s not that easy to obtain food from the military. Consequently, all of our chances lie with the man opposite me at this moment. The only way we were going to be able to touch the food was if the Chief before me gave his approval.
We’re not robbers. Veirya is also no longer a warrior who can legally obtain that food, anymore.
We must rely on our wits to obtain food now.
I then suddenly felt a warm sensation on the back of my hand, giving me a fright. I nearly jolted from the fright. I panicked as I lowered my head to see Leah’s smile.
Leah looked at me with a bright smile. She didn’t say anything. She just looked at me with a cheerful look and encouragement.
I looked at her smile and couldn’t help myself from revealing a smile. I gently stroked her head.
I then looked towards the Chief and spotted him looking at me and Leah with his gaze full of envy. It was as if he saw his future life with his daughter. After a short moment, he shifted his gaze to me and softly asked, “What plan do you have?”
“Your soldiers in your camp currently have a very low morale, because everybody wants to go home. These soldiers have already experienced war. All they want now is to return home and have freedom. Therefore, as an outstanding Chief, you need to be considerate of your soldiers, as well. You and your soldiers… Should. All. Go. Home.”
I looked at the Chief in front of me and softly went on, “However, due to your duty, you and your soldiers cannot return. But I have also heard that no more provisions will be delivered. In other words; if you have run out of provisions here, you can return.”
“There is no famine here, yet. In order to ensure that there is a food supply, I am absolutely positive that no more provisions will be delivered here. Hence, they will only swap out a new platoon to take your place. Subsequently, you just need to prove that you have run out of provisions and you can switch with another platoon.”
“W-Will that really work? Will I… really be able to return?” The Chief in front of me looked at me with disbelief.
I looked at him and nodded solemnly. I replied, “As long as you have no provisions, you will soon be able to leave this place. And we, coincidentally, need food. If you can give me your provisions, we will both be able to have what we want.”
“Re-selling army provisions is illegal! I would receive capital punishment for that!!”
“What is robbing the people of their food considered, then?” I looked at the angry Chief and in a serious tone explained, “Only you and I know. It doesn’t matter how much food you consume fighting, anyway. You just need to pull some strings. Plus, the war is over already. Do you think there is still anybody who’d be willing to be meticulous about war provisions?”
“Let’s say you don’t give them to me. What use would your pile of provisions serve? There are no enemies left for you to fight, so what’s the point of your existence? What’s the point in you hoarding food?”
My explanation gradually calmed the angry Chief. A moment later, he turned sluggish. He looked at me, opening and closing his mouth, but he didn’t know what to say.
After another moment, he picked up a picture from the side and softly asked, “What do we do if somebody investigates it?”
“You have a batch of gold coins here. If somebody persists, drag him down with us. Worst comes to worst, just kill him.”
I clenched my teeth and went on in a quiet voice, “Nobody cares if one or two people die in this sort of place. Think about your future. The war is over, and your duty has been fulfilled. All you need to do now is fulfil your duties as a husband and a father. Think about your future.”
“… Can you let me think about it for a bit?”
He took in a deep breath and removed his hat in an irritated manner. He looked at the military emblem on it and spaced out.
I stood up and slammed the table hard. I then looked at him and earnestly said, “People will always have to make choices. If the thought of it is in your mind now, you won’t change in the future, either. Make your decision now. Sometimes, you have to do some things for the people around you, and for yourself. Do what you think is right. Now is an opportunity for you to do that. Now, load up a cart with food and you may just be able to return home in a horse carriage after two to three days.”