A Lord’s Responsibility
The group had cleared the road, the one that almost stopped Veirya from reaching the gate of life. When I was at my craziest, it was the stupidest decision I ever made, but thank heavens that came to an end. The coal mining was put on a temporary hiatus after what transpired. After Angelina killed a group of miners, the rest probably hurtled. We could ensure that the coal was transported from its source at a normal price if humans and elves were no longer at war. To sum up, peace had been restored to the North.
I was no longer willing to pay any prices for the coal mine. The discussion regarding the flavouring trade with the elves had concluded. Although I had to return to Sisi, I wanted to take care of my family in the North and marry Veirya first.
I pushed the door open. Veirya and company weren’t back yet, but they’d be back soon. The elves no longer had any reason to prevent Veirya from leaving for I had repaid her loan, though they needed to collect the sum from Achilles. How they collected it was none of my concern.
What exceeded my expectations was that the townsfolk were earnestly cleaning the interior of the large hall. It was a daunting task to clean the hall that was used… essentially never using the ordinary cloths and brooms they used. Even kids found joy in cleaning the pillars. I’d be damned if I knew what was going on.
The rodent-eyed man energetically rose to his feet without his tattered grey clothes and runny nose: “Sir, I am so glad you are back. Some people said they saw you came back once before. We thought that you would surely be back, so we specifically cleaned for you to welcome you.”
“Welcome back!” cheered the townsfolk, who all turned around and bowed deeply to me.
Their voices echoed in the hall and sent tremors into my ears. Frankly, I never liked them or considered their welfare, so I never considered myself a lord. They chose to sell out Leah before, wanted to kill her merely because she was a succubus and burnt Veirya’s back. At the time, I would’ve massacred them if they said too much. They were also never loyal to me, and I never bothered to remember their faces. I just wanted to live in the town. My sights were on the elven lands and imperial capital. I never hoped the townsfolk would be of any value to me, asked them to do anything for me or hoped that they’d protect us when we were in trouble.
“You… are welcoming me? Or are you welcoming a new lord?”
“Sir, what are you saying? We have lived here for so long. We have always considered you to be the most outstanding lord before Queen Sisi came to power and after she began her reign,” replied the man, who smiled with a hint of shyness. “We once committed a nasty deed upon your daughter and then were afraid you would kill all of us. You, however, did not harm us. As a matter of fact, you never ever brought it up. You did not demand high taxes from us, protected us to allow us to plant crops and didn’t conscript us for war. The elves did not attack our town out of fear for you, as well. It is all thanks to you that we have been able to have a peaceful year. We now understand that you are the best lord we have ever seen. At the time, we heard you were going to go bankrupt due to losing all of your money. We did our best to donate in hopes of you being able to come back.”
All of the townsfolk beamed. Although I never saw the donations, I didn’t think they were telling a fib. They couldn’t have put together thirteen thousand gold coins, yet they still tried. I never spared them any attention, yet they were always watching me.
I had forgotten how long it had been since anyone thanked me. To be fair, the things I did had always been with the intent to harm others. Everyone I targeted would lose their family and life. I never regretted any those actions or felt apologetic for them. Strictly speaking, the reason the townsfolk had a peaceful year was because I never spared them any attention – how ironic. It couldn’t be denied that their gratitude towards me was genuine.
“Thank you very much for your trust. I am ashamed to admit, but I have never considered your well-being.”
“No, Sir, you have already done a lot for us. A lord does not need to think about what to do for us. A lord just needs to ensure that we have safe and free lives. Sir, you are already an excellent lord. If possible, we hope that you can stay here forever. These are welcome back gifts we have prepared for you. They are not deluxe goods. This is the best we have to offer, sadly.”
There was meat, fish and some strange vegetable. They weren’t worth a lot. Perhaps I should say they were worthless if you measured their worth based on how much money they were worth. If, nevertheless, they were measured by effort and sincerity, then they were priceless treasures.
I didn’t know if I was supposed to thank them or shed tears. I continued to stand in place and choke on a figurative bone. Perhaps my previous view of them was wrong. Absolutely, they were ignoramus, ignorant, easily swayed, easily scared and didn’t follow commands. Nonetheless, if they were settled, then they were reliable.
A lord’s job isn’t to use the people to give himself value but to let them believe in him.
I lowered my head and walked off, letting them hear the echo of, “Hurry and tidy up, then. Once you’re done, go back to your own jobs. Remember to pay your taxes on time this autumn.”
I then quickly headed to the rear. I didn’t want to cry in front of them as that would be embarrassing. I said enough to reassure them. At the very least, their tax for the year was going into our pockets.
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