Editor: Areth Kyntaul
“You’re truly an interesting one. All of the food here is with you, yet not only did you not profit but instead lost money. You’re a true failure of a merchant.”
“Sir, Sir, we, we didn’t think that the military would distribute food, either… If we didn’t buy it, we would be forced to buy it, or else the price of food wouldn’t be worth a dime.”
“Oh?” The man in front looked at the fatty and chuckled. He took his tobacco pipe out of his mouth and knocked it against the table.
With a chuckle, he said, “An ordinary military chief understands this sort of stuff? He knew how to make himself a big paycheck when he left? So the military has started extorting us, have they? That hurts. How could one not worry when the military is like this?”
“Yes, yes… Sir Achilles, this group have learnt how to utilise extortion.” The fatty quickly nodded to respond to the man in front of him, albeit in a flustered fashion.
The man gently combed his short light-blonde hair, which wasn’t actually messy and then stood up. His vest and shirt didn’t have a speck of dust on them, which didn’t match the run-down city at all.
His servant behind him quickly draped his coat on for him. His tall physique matched his long overcoat, giving him a particularly tall appearance. He wore his leather gloves and then scanned the freezing cold air in a manner similar to a cat.
He chuckled and then said, “However, this isn’t the military’s place, anymore. Soon, our forces and the chapel’s will occupy this place. Thanks to this swap, we’ve managed to gain the authority to manage this place. Although the act of extortion by the military was appalling, their request to switch helped us get our way. Oh, right, did anyone else come before all of this? Everybody is watching over the food. Did any other merchant come to try to dip their hands in our food?”
“No, but… umm… there was a man with Lord Veirya. He was a really strange one. He’s not Lord Veirya’s husband, but he brought a girl along with him. The girl was really cute, though. He managed to discern that we had food in our warehouse. He had distinct goals he pursued and was extremely calm. I would say that he is on par with you…”
“In what way?”
“Clever, sharp, and calm… just like you. He was aggressive and yet decisive at the negotiation table, like yourself. If you get to know him, I think you will understand… He is also connected to the military. I surmise that he was the one who gave the military the idea, as a way of getting back at us.”
The man pursed his lips into a smile, and responded, “Interesting. Truly interesting. I think this is very interesting that there’s someone out here, where there’s barely a soul in sight, that you’d be full of praise for. If possible, I want to see this Lord Veirya, who started this era of ours, and that man, while I’m at it. After Veirya is eliminated, I really want to bring that man under my wing to get him to run this place. I think he’d be superior to you.”
The fatty didn’t say anything else.
The man put on his hat after he exited the store. He then looked up at the sky.
Night comes sooner in the cold north. It should only be around noon right now, but the sky was covered with dark clouds already. Meanwhile black smoke outside of the city ascended into the air, the same way smoke spiralled upward from kitchens chimneys.
The man breathed in through his nose, as though he was somewhat unhappy with the smell of the black smoke. He turned to face the soldier in metal armour next to him and ordered, “Remember to inform your Chief to light the fire farther away from here when you deal with those heretics outside the city. This smell is sickening. It reeks of heretics.”
Underneath the helmet was a cold female voice. Perhaps it was because of the air in the north that her voice sounded colder. She turned around to leave with her red cape flapping gently in the wind.
The man turned his head to check her out from the rear. When he saw her erect posture and especially cool aura, he giggled and remarked, “She’s so captivating.”
“Sir, do you have plans for tonight?”
“No, no, no, a flower is most beautiful when it is budding. A book is most alluring when it is yet to be opened. Without her armour, how is she any different to any other ordinary woman?”
The man shook his head and then looked at the dark sky again. It looked as if catkins were falling from the sky. However, these weren’t snowflakes in the north.
It actually came from the heretics outside. It was their bodies and hopes that were falling down in the form of snow in the north.
For the merchants, this was the best outcome. Without the heretics, they didn’t need to resolve any famine. That was the goal the chapel and merchants had in mind with their collaboration this time.
The chapel helped the merchants resolve this matter and then they had more important business to handle afterwards.
But Veirya and I had returned to the town now, so we had no idea what happened inside the city. Twelve hours after we left, all of the problems had been solved…
We returned to the town. Though the town still looked worn out from the outside, the outer walls and main doors were still dangerous. But despite that, I still felt particularly relaxed and at peace when I entered the town.
We really did pull a last-ditch effort for the food. We ended up gambling in the end. If our negotiations with the army failed, we’d have no way of returning here.
Once the escort arrived, the record keeper sniffled and looked at the escort, carriage, and carts before us, filled with food, in disbelief.
We got off and Leah hopped down. She cheerfully stretched her back out and remarked, “I’m so tired, Papa. Sitting in a horse carriage is more tiring than riding a horse.”
I nodded and replied, “Yeah, this carriage doesn’t have anything to reduce the rocking and bumpiness.”
Veirya stepped out from the carriage and then walked to her residence without paying attention to anything else. I have completed my task, and the crisis this town was faced with had ended. However, there was still one more thing I had to do. I was hoping to see Lucia.
Lucia had lied to us. She tricked us out of our food by buying it at an extremely low price. I don’t know what exactly she’s trying to do, but I can get some clues from that elf.
‘Although I’ve resolved the crisis here, why is it that I have a random anxious feeling, as though this has become more complex after I interfered? I don’t have any evidence to support my anxious feeling, and even less of a reason to feel this way. This is irritating me.’
“Oh, right, Lord, something happened when you were absent. A succubus came to the town to try and steal food, but the townsfolk captured her.”
Leah shuddered intensely.
I looked at the man in front of me with surprise. I grabbed him by his collar and shouted, “What happened after? What did you do after?!”
“After that, after that, the townsfolk beheaded her and put her head at the centre of the plaza… Her corpse got chopped to pieces and thrown out… This town was attacked by demons in the past, so the townsfolk hate demons.”
Leah hugged me around my thigh and cried as she shouted, “Papa!!”
It was as though Leah returned to that corner of the dark palace. The stench of blood, the feel of the carpet, and the shadow chasing after Leah appeared in her eyes again. I thought Leah had forgotten about it and was no longer afraid. But, after hearing of how the succubus died, the image of Veirya almost killing her reappeared in her eyes.
I quickly hugged Leah anxiously, while she grabbed my chest and wept.
The record keeper in front of me froze up and then scratched his chin awkwardly. He apologised, “Sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned this sort of stuff in a kid’s presence…”
“Cremate or bury the corpse! Don’t do that!”
I had no patience to say anything to him. I merely gave him a command and then turned to pick Leah up and hug her tightly.
In a soft voice, I told her, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Leah, it’s all over. It’s all over. I’m here with you. I’ll always be there to protect you. Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared.”
“Papa… Papa… don’t leave me… Papa… Papa…”