I waited for about an hour. The time now is quite a bit past noon.
There is no tool to tell precise time in this world. Hence most people live by what they feel.
This comes as a natural thing after living all their lives like that.
Permeating into the 'humans' in this world as if it's been carved in their survival instinct, affording them to tell time in a precise manner. Probably the reason why they don't need clocks.
Yet, despite being a denizen of this world, I'm also someone who's familiar with the goodness of clocks. From previous life.
As such, even though I've been living here for 15 whole years, I'm still unable to acquire this precise 'sense of time'.
Not having anything to do while waiting, I've opted to take a nap.
And so do the children, they must feel relaxed after being liberated.
We're in a lodging house intended for gatekeepers. The children have all gathered in the lobby including me.
Can't hide my surprise at how big this lodging house is.
But it's clear it hasn't been maintained for quite some time with how worn down looking it is.
Thinking how bustling this route to the federation must have been in the olden days really drives home the impermanence of all things.
"Pardon me! I am here to escort our esteemed guest! The prime minister himself has ordained me to escort you to the palace! Which one of you would that be?"
An official came in and declared that. I replied to him. Still feeling really sleepy.
"Fa~. Yes... I'm here. So, did the PM get the message? What do I do now?"
"Sir! Here is the official summon! I have been tasked to personally escort you to the palace's council room! Please feel free to ask me anything. We shall prepare anything you wish!"
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(Whao... They're treating me like a super VIP... Didn't think it'd get this far...)
I got a bit bewildered by how effective my threat worked, but I took the first step nonetheless, for the sake of my 'shoving strategy'.
"I'm taking all 45 children here with me. Is that okay?"
"...Sir! I shall prepare your carriages at once! Please if you could find it in your heart to wait a moment!"
The man straightened his back before running out of the lodging house right after.
In a short while, eight extremely luxurious carriages came back.
"Please go ahead! You may get on these. Please keep each carriage to six people if you would!"
The scene looks surreal. All these luxurious carriages in a gate near the slum.
Watching this, one of the gatekeepers muttered 'Who the heck is this guy...'
The man coming for me didn't miss that as he approached this gatekeeper and showed him something.
The gatekeeper looked like he had the shock of his life as he quickly prostrated before me.
A high speed sliding prostration. I was taken aback by that.
"My humblest apologies sir! Please! Please! Spare me my life!"
The gatekeeper apologized as loud as he could. I could tell he wasn't acting from his trembling body.
(Oy, what did you tell this guy anyway... Damn...)
"I got it, apologies accepted. Now go on and resume your duty."
I pretended to keep it cool despite my shook. Looking obviously flustered here would spell jeopardy to my 'shoving strategy', can't let that happen. Hence, I took on a bigwig attitude here.
The gatekeeper hurriedly got up and yelled, 'Thank you so much!' before going back to his post.
Not to forget saluting first of course.
(Ah, 'Numbers' must have mimicked these guys... Yep, don't need it.)
My tension lowered a bit at this useless reveal. I tried to put on a positive outlook and spoke to the children.
"Your future will hinge on the discussion that's about to take place. All of you get on. You must fight for your survival. So you can live as humans."
I don't know if the children get what I'm saying.
Hence, I'm speaking slowly with a serious tone.
I have no idea whether it reached them or not. However, they all quietly got on their carriages without a fuss.
(I knew it. All slum kids must have 'survival instinct' drilled on them...)
Same with 'Numbers', these children keep moving straight ahead without showing any hesitation.
I got on the last.
'Well then', with that signal, our carriages departed.
"Hope it all goes well..."
My words were drowned by the sounds of moving carriage wheels, heard by none.