“Ladies and gentlemen, we have not held the Fire Torch Festival in many years. This is also Lord Veirya’s first winter here this year. As the lord, Lord Veirya will ensure you obtain your once enriched life and peaceful environment. I hope that you can all prepare well, spreading joy throughout the entire town. I have prepared food for you. Everybody will receive some. Just head to the barn and collect your share. Try to collect your food as fast as possible.”
The assembly hall of the town finally served a purpose after it was tidied up. Veirya and I sat at the forefront. Veirya clearly didn’t care for this sort of festival and took no part in designing it, so I talked about it on her behalf.
The people below, on the other hand, were very happy. Though Veirya didn’t say a word, who would say “no” to free food? Next, I plan to have them ascend the mountain and chop trees down, freeze them and then send them back. We need to repair the town’s walls and city door. The North is under the Queen’s jurisdiction, after all. Demons and mobs created by the famine are still here. Safety is forever the number one priority.
After the meeting ended, Leah grabbed my arm and asked me with eagerness, “Papa, what is the Fire Torch Festival like?”
I stopped to think for a bit and then answered, “First, everyone needs to come to the plaza carrying a fire torch, and then they will light up the large wooden person and wolf. They will then drink wine and hold a banquet next to the huge bonfire. There will also be some small stalls. Finally, we will be able to dance at night. It’s said that men and women who dance on at the Fire Torch Festival will definitely find bliss.”
Leah looked at me with a face full of excitement and exclaimed, “Let’s dance on the night then, Papa!! I want to dance too, Papa! I want to find bliss with you, Papa!”
“No… Leah, this bliss between a man and a woman might be slightly different to how you understand it…” I smiled awkwardly then continued, “And Leah, aren’t you already very blissful being with Papa? We don’t need that bliss. How about giving that bliss to somebody else?”
Leah thought about then nodded, “True. Leah is already very blissful. Being able to be by Papa’s side is, indeed, very blissful. But Papa, will you dance with somebody else then?”
I considered her question for a moment. My gaze shifted to Veirya. Veirya didn’t leave. She stayed seated in her chair as she slowly drank water. She didn’t care about our conversation.
‘It appears that she doesn’t care for this so-called event. She might not even show up at the festival.’
‘To be honest, I do somewhat want to ask Veirya to dance, but after seeing Veirya’s uninterested gaze and Leah’s threatening gaze, I think it’s better to toss the idea out.’
“Let’s go, Leah. Come with Papa into the city before the Fire Torch Festival.”
Leah looked at me slightly surprised and asked, “Papa, why do we have to go into the city? Nothing has come up recently. Do we still need to buy food?”
“No, we’re going to buy clothes this time. You can always wear this sort of clothes, even at the festival. This is a grand ceremony at the end of the day. You need a new set of clothes. Consider it Papa’s present for you.”
“Papa, do you have money?”
“I think I can afford it as long as it’s not ridiculously expensive.”
Leah revealed an excited smile after she heard I had money. Leah’s current clothes are still the modified military uniform Veirya modified. Leah only has that one set of clothes. She doesn’t have clothes to change into once we wash it. I need a set of clothes, too. I don’t know if Veirya needs new clothes or not, though.
I looked at Veirya.
‘Veirya should have plenty of clothes, shouldn’t she – even if they’re the same model…?’
I looked at her and cautiously asked, “Veirya, do you want to come with us into the city to buy clothes?”
Leah wore a slightly awkward expression. It seemed that she didn’t intend to let Veirya come along. There’s not much point in Veirya coming, in reality… Veirya doesn’t have money. I don’t know why she doesn’t have any money saved, despite being in the army for so long. It might be because she was part of the small Warrior team as opposed to serving in the army, and therefore doesn’t have money.
Veirya looked at us and then at just Leah. She nodded and then stood up. Leah unhappily pouted. I scrubbed her head and with a smile said, “What’s wrong? Veirya made you a set of clothes as well. Leah, Papa should thank Veirya too, so she should come with us, right?”
“But… you don’t have much money, right, Papa…? Do you have enough?”
I stroked Leah’s head and replied, “I have a way. Papa didn’t give all our money to that chief. We also have a portion of the money Miss Lucia gave us, so that should be enough, I reckon.”
Although I have a very valuable gold coin on hand, I don’t know how much clothes cost. But a gold coin is enough for a common family to live off for almost a month. If a piece of clothing cost that much, then it would be too expensive. I’m not after any resplendent clothes. Ordinary clothes will do just fine. I should be able to afford it.
We prepared to leave really quickly, as we didn’t need to prepare anything. This was a one-day trip. We left at noon and arrived on the second day after spending a night out in the wild. I slept holding Leah tightly at night again. I did my best to have her curl up, so as to cover up her transformation. Veirya slept as serious as she is during the day. You couldn’t tell that she was alive if her chest wasn’t shaking a little. She didn’t care what Leah and I did. We were fine as long as we didn’t approach her.
I was mind-blown when we arrived at the city the next day. I never thought the livestock fence and refugees had completely vanished without a trace. There was now trace below the city wall. There were no traces of bonfires or erected camps. There wasn’t even a trace of human life previously existing here. There wasn’t so much as a footprint on the ground. The city doors were lazily opened. The former team was no longer present either.
If that merchant was in charge of disaster relief then this has got to be too perfect. Surely he’s too incredible if he could get rid of all them, which numbered at least ten thousand in such a short time span, and erasing every trace.
That man is competent, all right.
We entered the city. It was clear that there were more people on the streets compared to before. Although the majority was still missionaries, the people weren’t as tense as before.
‘It appears that the famine has passed.’
‘But why are there so many people dressed in a white robe? There was basically one of them every dozen steps. The things they were saying were slightly problematic, as well. By that I mean the problem with their judgement of heretics. They were going on about burning the entire continent and burning all heretics and whatever. Is such a vengeful opinion a good thing?’
I tugged Leah’s hat. The soldiers passed by us, but they didn’t care about Veirya. They didn’t salute her or speak to her, as though they didn’t see her. The soldiers seemed as if they didn’t recognise Veirya. We were respected by enough people the last time we were here, while nobody paid us any heed this time.
‘This is problematic, isn’t it…?’