6-12. People of Baron Muno Territory (3)
Satou's here. Scene of people crying while eating their meal is a wartime or post-war time tale, but if I have to say, that only reminds me of the time when I'm consoling a broken-hearted friend who went into binge eating, Satou's.
"Gramps, we got some foods."
"It's not weeds today~."
The children whom we meet in the afternoon come storming in when we're eating cereals, vegetables and wolf meat together with the old people. I've heard about these children from the old people, but since they don't know when they'll come back, we've started our meal ahead of them.
"Ah, it's the people from earlier."
"Did they come to get the food back?"
"They're waiting for us."
The children hide anxiously behind the leader's back.
Do these children not see the peaceful atmosphere of this meal?
"We have lots of porridge, why don't you eat with us?"
"That's right, you children eat too."
"Hey now, quickly sit down kids."
The children are cautious with my invitation, but since the gramps are also calling them, and above all, they're captivated with the presented porridge, before long they've joined the meal with us.
"It's not weeds?"
"Uwah, there's something smelling nice."
"There are boiled meat here."
"It's true, it's meat~."
"Really delicious.... Uuuu"
It's good that you're delighted, but please stop being moved to tears.
Pochi who has finished her plate the fastest starts the war with few words.
"Another please~ nano desu!"
With those few words, the tension is raised on the children.
Probably only feeling that tension subtly, or maybe none at all, the always expressionless Nana asks for another serving.
"You kids don't need to be reserved. Go eat more."
"We still have a lot, so if you want another helping, you can ask without reserve."
They're cheering after hearing Arisa's words, leaving my words unfinished. The children's eating speed becomes faster. The old people scold the boys who choke their food, "Chew your food well."
Since it looks like the food will not be enough, I go back to the wagon to boil potatoes.
I peel about 20 potatoes and boil them together with Lulu who has came to help. Hearing rustling sounds, I see to the side to find Mia.
"You also want another helping, Mia?"
Mia shakes her head lightly.
She tries hard to put words together.
"Throwing away... children... elders?"
When I ask her in detail, seems that the elves cherish their children and elders, so she's shocked with this situation.
Let's leave this kind of heavy topic to Arisa-sensei.
"Have you asked Arisa?"
"What did she say?"
"I don't understand. Things like the riches and the poor, or social structure."
Dang Arisa, don't use difficult words to muddle your way.
"Mia, races that produce a lot of children, not just humans, are fundamentally weak."
"Since they're weak they struggle hard, and will save oneself even at the expense of many."
"All of them?"
"Yep, since they can't all be saved, they let one section becomes sacrifice."
It's good if she's convinced with that, but I myself haven't put much thought in it. Even most of the talks from just before were nothing more than informations I got from net and TV.
"If someone like master becomes a king, it would be really peaceful."
Lulu says so while smiling, but she's overestimating me. If someone like me become a king, the whole country would immediately go bankrupt, the end.
"Hou, I was wondering why she wore hood during the meal, she was an elf huh."
An old woman comes to here alone. Mia quickly cover herself with the hood even though it's too late.
"She's shy around people."
"Is that so, young lady, I won't tell others so please forgive me."
Mia nods, and lightly runs behind Lulu's back who's keeping the pot.
"Did I get myself hated?"
"She's just shy. Rather than that, is there anything wrong?"
"It's painful to only accept your kindness and eat, so I'm thinking if there's anything I can help."
"Since we've just began boiling more potatoes, we have enough hands."
"I thought that you were just about to tidy up, is it fine? I don't have anything to pay you back even after you treat us this much."
"It's just a simple whim of mine, please don't mind it."
The old woman looks lost for a moment, but as if she's decided on something, she continues her words.
"Merchant-san, won't you make those children your slaves?"
"I'm sorry old woman, I have enough slaves already, I don't need anymore than these."
"One or two of them is fine, please take them. If they're left alone here, they would die from starvation sooner or later. I don't mind if it's old bones like me, but it's painful to see the children pass away."
I'm sorry for the old woman, but I refuse.
To be frank, journeying in this world is too dangerous. If I need to protect just Lulu and Nana then I could do something about it, but if the people who need to be protected increase by the nine kids over there, I won't be able to.
To calm my heart, I put aside the food for a bit.
"It'd be good if the children could grow their own vegetables isn't it."
"That's right, it'd be nice if there's a field where we could grow vegetables."
"Is the ground around here not good?"
"The sun's exposure is good, but the soil is too brittle, so it's no good."
Mia is listening to Lulu's and the old woman's conversation without doing anything, but then she pulls my sleeve.
"What is it?"
"Yup, it's forest alright."
Seemingly annoyed with my reply, Mia pouts.
What'd you say, you can use leaves from where rhinoceros beetles live
"Come to think of it, Arisa said something about that too."
"Is it about agricultural reform?"
Yes, that. If I'm not mistaken, she said that an outbreak of large quantity of insect monsters happened.
"Yep, Arisa said that large quantity of it were springing out when she tried it."
"Is that so."
"Lia said so."
Lia? Isn't she Mia's mother?
"In other words, we should clear the forest and cultivate farming land there?"
"That's nice, if we could do that, then the children and us would work hard on it."
The old woman is saying that but she doesn't look to be serious. If we have heavy machineries, then clearing the land wouldn't be hard at all, but of course there is no such thing. Even if we successfully cultivate the land, they could only harvest after 1 year while suffering during that period.
"Right, there are crops which could be harvested fast, but only Gabo could in this season. That one could be harvested in one month. Although, anyone but the nobles in their manor is prohibited in cultivating plants, so we can't acquire the seeds."
The old woman has experience in cultivating Gabo fruit when she was forced to work in a manor.
"That thing can grow disgustingly fast. That's why it's classified as a weed."
They just need to have enough food until spring, is there really nothing we can do?
"If there's such method, we old bones wouldn't get thrown out of the village."
"I don't mind even if it's absurd."
"Right, then we could go hunt the spider bear in the forest. If we have just three spider bear bosses' meat and smoke them, we could live leisurely until spring."
It's a monster living deep in various places of this forest. There are 5 monsters with level around 24-28.
Still, is it a bear or a spider, be firm about it.
<TLN: In Japanese, bear is kuma, spider is kumo. The monster's name is Kumo Kuma lol.>
"Don't seriously think of going okay? I know that your slave girls are strong, but they won't win against the spider bear inside the forest. When I was a child, there was subjugation expedition with the knights, samurai and soldiers leading the way, no one came back."
Rather than the problem with fighting inside the forest, I think it's simply because of level difference.
"If little elf lady here grows up, with the forest magic from the fairy tale, she could move with ease along the large trees and help farm the land in the forest."
Mia is sulking after being treated as a child.
"Old woman, even though this girl looks like this, she's older than you."
"Oya oya, is that so. Elves sure have long life."
Mia's mood isn't recovering, but when the old woman blows leaf flute to soothe her, she looks interested on it.
Since Mia is also coming from forest, she has blown various leaves flutes there, so her musical timbre and power of expression are world apart from the old woman even though they use the same leaf. This might unexpectedly be the result of study in her long life.
Everyone gathered around Mia before I'm aware, but then Mia stops and the leading role changes to the potatoes. In the end, it was not enough with just potatoes, and we ended up cooking cereal and porridge once more.