Sometimes, lots of secrets are hidden in the shadows, and those secrets are oftentimes shocking. Further, nobody drills down into them..
I led Leah inside the lane. The place was somewhat dark, cold and moist. I guess the chapel considered it their rubbish dump. I saw lots of large barrels which, presumably, were rubbish bin equivalents. The people gathered in the lane were most likely waiting to see if there was any food in the rubbish bins.
The people showed no intention of getting up despite hearing my footsteps. They, in fact, didn’t even budge. They acted as though they were dead. Only one individual sat up and looked at us out of his peripherals. Afraid when she saw him, Leah clung to my arm.
The man wore torn and tattered clothing. He even used torn paper for some parts. His beard was messy and filthy. I could smell the stench on him despite the considerable distance between us. I couldn’t be too picky and whingey in my predicament, however. Rubbish could be useful. I found out about the chapel’s deal in relation to the flavouring trade last time thanks to rubbish. Although not all rubbish was meaningful, there was nothing wrong with inspecting it. They might reveal odd facts.
I walked up to the man and placed a silver coin in his hand. He looked at the coin, eyes squinted. He looked up at me and smiled. He rubbed his hands together and asked, “You want to know something? Nobody would ever give away a silver coin so generously. You must want to know something, correct?”
“Haha, about the chapel? The only active entity at present is the chapel. Since you only came here for business, I believe you must have come here for something to do with the chapel. Further, are we not behind the chapel?” said the man, nodding. “You have come to the right place. As you might have guessed, they throw out food every day now; they throw out more than they did in the past. Not to mention it is all flavoured. See those people? In the past, I was the only one here. The last few days, though, they came here, too, because there is better food here.”
“Starting from a few days ago, correct? So, when the pope came back?”
The man nodded: “That is right. I imagine you already understand why the chapel would throw away so much food, right?’
“I know. They’re treating a guest.”
“For several days consecutively?”
“That means a fair number of people have come to reside in the chapel recently. Put another way, the chapel may be raising some new pets.”
The man responded with a content nod: “Then, do you know who their guest is?”
“You even know their identity?!”
I could understand him possessing the knowledge for the initial points and being able to reason that the chapel had increased their activities based on the volume of food thrown out. I believed the intelligence he provided. Nevertheless, if the chapel truly brought so many people over, the people might be the secret weapon they had in store to oppose the Queen. They should be the chapel’s knights; however, judging from the beggar’s demeanour, they weren’t knights, and they were people he knew.
The chapel wouldn’t mindlessly let someone into their chapel. By the same token, the people inside wouldn’t senselessly come out. The Queen was definitely keeping surveillance on the chapel. Subsequently, if she found out the chapel had more men, armed men for that matter, she’d definitely obstruct them. That begged the question: “Was the beggar lying to me?”
The beggar used a hand gesture to signal for me to give him another silver coin for more information. I could be giving money away for nothing, but I didn’t plan to waste an opportunity. Should he be telling the truth, one silver coin was absolutely worth it.
I placed another silver coin in his hand. Satisfied, he nodded: “Young man, you are planning something, huh? I believe lots of others would refuse to give me a second silver coin. I shall share the truth with you, then. The people getting free meals in the chapel are actually erstwhile adventurers who once fought on the battlefields. There are not many adventurers nowadays, though. The remainder of them have sided with the chapel, for the reason that the Queen’s attitude toward them has disappointed them.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I, too, am an adventurer. I was once a gold rank adventurer; I also received a letter from the chapel. The chapel used a variety of mediums to contact those who could still be contacted and used the contacts each adventurer had to recruit them one by one. Lots of homeless adventurers were willing to come here.”
“How about you, then? Why are you still here? You just need to turn around, and you’ll be able to go inside to eat, as well. Why must you stay here and eat rubbish?”
The man scrubbed the two silver coins. He looked at Queen Sisi’s face on the coins and laughed in a quiet voice: “You are a businessman, correct? I can tell you are a businessman from your gaze. Your gaze is aloof and serious. I presume you understand capital and profit. If I spent a hundred dollars and earned ten, I would be happy. If, however, I picked up a copper for free, I’d be happy for the entire day. That is my reason. I am now a beggar. With these two silver coins, I would be happy for one week, which is why I think that I am happiest without anything.”
I pursed my lips into a smile. He wasn’t wrong. In saying that, it was twisted logic. I was different to him, after all. If I was empty handed, how was I supposed to take care of Leah? I didn’t comment, though. Instead, I asked, “Do you know what the chapel asked the adventurers to do in the letters?”
“They claimed that they would take care of us by allowing us to lead lives that would earn the respect of others as we did in the past.”
“Are they going to feed you or something? If you think about it, you would realise that it’s impossible. The chapel is currently struggling financially. How would they feed you all?”
I pinched my chin and thought to myself, but I kept my eyes on the former adventurer: “What do adventurers do? Anna? She’s a maid, while this man is a beggar. What about the others? Lots of them aren’t educated. Even if the church wanted educated ones, they’d still be meaningless existences. Are they after their might, then? The chapel needs adventurers, but not their own knights? Adventurers should be pointless existences nowadays. The times have abandoned them. Adventurers only exist if the Demon King does. Without him, who needs adventurers? Without him, not even Veirya is worth anything, let alone your ordinary adventurers.’
“Who knows? They certainly will not be feeding us,” commented the man, extending his hand out again.
I gave the man another silver coin. He collected the three coins together. In a solemn voice, he elaborated, “The chapel will not feed us; only Her Majesty will feed us. She is the only one who would let us fight, and let us die. We will only lead good lives and be respected when there is a need to fight. So, the question is, when will we be needed?”
“That era is over, though,” I responded.
“Yeah, that era is over,” repeated the man.
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