6-11. People of Baron Muno Territory (2)
Satou's here. There were some TV programs about survival in uninhabited island or deep in a forest, but I would refuse if I was asked to participate.
I'd eat through all the the nuts and edible plants in a matter of weeks.
"Master, there's someone ahead nodesu."
Pochi who's occupying my lap finds traces of someone ahead. I've confirmed it on the map, but I can't see it yet.
"Ah, it went inside the forest."
It seems scout-kun had gone to call its friends.
They're thieves, but this time it's a bit different. They're children ranging from 9 to 14 years old. There are three boys and six girls. Their Reward and Punishments are just [Contract Breach]. Since their titles are [Runaway Slave], they're probably children who have ran away from villages. Their stamina are all less than half.
Indeed, it'd be pitiful to beat them up right?
"What's on there?"
"Group of boys thieves."
"What's that, I'm burning up!"
I consult to Arisa and Liza about their reward and punishment.
"Runaway slaves is it? Then, our reward and punishment won't change even if we kill them, so I think there's no need to worry."
No, Liza-san, I don't have such worry.
"How about ignoring and going through them? Or do you want to get more little girls?"
This is enough, I'll pass on getting more.
"Right huh, runaway slaves probably don't have projectile weapons, let's shake them off."
...It was no good.
Three girls are laying on the road, blocking it. We can't exactly run them over right?
The wagon barely stopped in time just before hitting them, but the girls didn't move even after that. Since they were not tied, their body might had been frozen in fear. They're too reckless even if they want to stop the wagon no matter what.
"Don't move! We have ten archers aiming at you in the forest."
Strange voice with raised pitch threatened us.
Since it's troublesome to play along with the bluff, I'll put aside the girls and quickly advance the wagon.
I leave the wagon's back entrance to Pochi and Tama to guard, and the driver's seat to Liza.
"If you value your life, leave your food here."
He's making demand with utmost effort, but the back chorus isn't helping.
"I'd like some potatoes."
"Stupid, we have to demand dried meat here! Right?"
"I want to eat bread."
"Anything's good as long as it's not weeds."
"Stupid, you guys keep silent."
"You're the stupid one calling other stupid you know?"
"Just shut your mouth."
The demands became chattering of young children, ruining everything.
I seize one of the small girl who's blocking the road, and gently toss her to the other children in the forest. She's abnormally light. The children who are thrown at are panicking while catching her.
"Uwah, what are you doing!"
"We'd shoot you with arrow."
No one is coming out of the forest.
Do they not have weapons or are they afraid of Liza?
"Do you want to walk to the forest yourself, or get thrown there?"
"J, just run me over. If we don't have food, we'll die starving anyway."
She insists with trembling voice, I'm not sure if she's bluffing or being serious.
She's the same age as Lulu, but she looks as old as Arisa. She's a girl with semi-long red hair and red brown pupils. The arm which I grab to make her stand is thin like a dead branch.
"L, let go of Totona!"
The boy who has been negotiating with us since now comes out of the forest after seeing me grabbing the girl's arm. The red-haired boy looks similar with the girl. He's holding a club on his hand.
I force the girl to stand, and push her toward the boy. The girl stumbles and is caught by the boy.
I jump to the driver seat of the wagon which has started running.
Arisa holds out a big bag while saying so, and throws that to the forest. The content of that bag is vegetables and food that Tama has gathered like fruits. Since it wasn't prepared in advance, she probably did it when she heard the boys' conversation.
"You're probably thinking that even if I give them food, it won't solve the root of the problem right? When you're starving, you don't think of tomorrow. The most important thing is to quell the starving right now. Just that."
"Is it still bothering you?"
"No, it's not that."
It didn't bother me at all. After taking two deep breaths, the queasy feeling on my stomach completely disappears.
What I have in mind is the things ahead. There's a narrow river ahead of this road, and five old people are there.
They're neither thieves or runaway slaves. Are they fishing?
"Don't think unnecessary things when you're hungry! Let's eat a lot of delicious steaks and cheer up!"
"Eat until full nodesu."
I'm thankful for your worry, but you girls are absolutely thinking about the steak more right?
We've arrived at the creek after a while.
The elderly are just sitting on the bank and staring at the river. I'm thinking of camping near the river, but what do I do about this.
"Good afternoon, the weather is nice today huh."
"Oh, are you a merchant, do you have some businesses with this old man?"
"I'm sorry for disturbing you. When I was stopping by the river to get some water, I saw your figures, so I thought of greeting everyone here."
"That is, quite polite of you. Just think of me like a pebble on the roadside."
"That's right, we don't have anything to do beside staring at the river in sorrow until we're called by the god."
<TLN: He/she means dying>
"It's preferable to be called by the god here rather than have our grandchildren be sold."
"We're not welcomed in the village even if we go back."
"If you want to give us foods, I'll accept it anytime you know?"
"Hey, if you eat now, you'll get called by the god late."
"That's right huh."
It seems that they're abandoned here on this river.
You should treasure the elders!
"Don't make such face, it's fine."
"That's right, for the sake of decreasing the mouths needed to be feed, we got out of the village by our own volition."
"Right, if the old people are decreased, girls who sell themselves would probably decrease too."
"Nowadays, merchants weren't buying slaves and the village headman was grumbling."
Since there's no one who would buy their daughters, they sacrifice the elderly now huh.
Since the old people seem to be harmless, I decide to camp slightly away from them. We're located downwind from where they are.
Usually, Pochi and Tama hunt and gather food, Arisa and Mia collect firewoods, Lulu and Liza cook, and Nana helps them cook, but since the old people would likely die faster if we scrouge the plants and animals on this area, I decide to refrain.
"We're not going to look for firewoods or preys today. Liza, I'm sorry, but since I want to treat the old people with foods, I want you to cook more today, I leave you with the food choice."
"I understand, since heavy stuff is impossible for people who're fasting, let's make cereal porridge."
"We have enough hands, but let's teach you on this occasion! It's not only Mia, Arisa, you too."
Lulu readily accepts Mia's offer, and takes Arisa by hand to the place where the cookwares lay. Arisa resists by saying, "Cooking is my bane~.", but today Lulu is forceful and she keeps pulling her.
Pochi and Tama look around restlessly, so I tell them, "You girls can go ahead and play", but somehow it has became a battle training. Moreover, it's me versus Pochi and Tama.
After the signal, Pochi rushes forward like an arrow.
I smoothly avoid the wooden sword's thrust.
Using that chance, Tama sweeps my feet with her wooden sword, I avoid it by jumping.
I counter by lightly kick Tama's wooden sword.
Tama who loses her wooden sword jumps at me while making small growl.
I change her trajectory by scooping her stomach with my palm, and gently throw her away.
While eluding Pochi's attack twice, I confirm Tama has landed after spinning on the air from the edge of my vision.
The training continues while being like that, and when I purposely get myself caught at the end, it somehow looks like we're flirting.
"I caught you, hamumunyanoresu."
<TLN: She's biting him.>
And then, the last punchline has to come from Arisa after all.
"I'll join in too~."
While saying so, Arisa jumps at me, but--
"The next prey is Arisa nano desu!"
--Pochi and Tama brilliantly intercept her.