“Don’t leave your side open!”
In tandem with the unforgiving angry voice, my wooden sword was knocked out of my hands. My sparring partner Gunther, would not go easy on me at all. While holding my wrist which was numb from the shock still, I thanked him politely.
Rashiok has grown to the point where it’s fine even if I’m not watching him at all times anymore, it’s now late summer. The barracks being built for the domain’s troops next to the Mansion of Golden Hills has been completed, Earl Terejia had organized the troops he had hired along with the original soldiers from my domain here. It’s quite some building they’ve finished here… It feels like just not long ago I was still watching its construction from my window.
Right after the troops moved into the barracks, for some reason the earl had me start learning martial arts. In order to drill the foundations of how to use the sword and spear into me, a three month soldier in training course (for a noble) has been prepared especially for me.
But really, I’m supposed to be a girl. I’m wondering if Earl Terejia has perhaps happened to forget my gender.
It’s probably a standard part of noble education so there’s nothing strange about this. There’s no problem with this, but… A different problem is that I feel like my life may be in danger now.
After I thought about it for a bit, I decided to do it.
This barracks was decided upon in order to allow the Kaldia domain’s troops to stay here at all times. Since it’s the Kaldia domain’s troops, of course they were mostly my domain’s people. Meaning, among them were still people that hated my father’s blood to the point of wanting to boil him alive. Of course, they would include me in their targets to hate as well. They hate me simply because of my heritage… Those kinds of uncivilized fellows.
I went out from the mansion for the first time. For grave crimes, the place where you would get quartered became my first memory of a place I visited outside the mansion, so I wondered if there was such a thing as karma, just how bad my karma would be currently.
Something even worse, is that more than half of my domain’s troops were originally bandits. I wonder if I’ll really make it to the end of my three month training alive.
At least Kamil and Rashiok are with me as my caretaker and pet but, if I’m spoiled too much by Kamil it’ll probably cause my head to be separated from my body soon down the road, so I hurriedly dragged out my skills for self-sufficiency from my previous life that I had almost forgotten by now after reincarnating.
“March ten laps around here, and don’t you dare slack off!”
“Do you remember how many times I’ve said it already, use your voice from the stomach when you reply!”
“Yes! I’m sorry!”
The jeers finally stopped after a while, well it could be worse.
I had always been confined to a gilded cage and raised delicately until now, but this training to me caused me to throw up every night and become completely covered in sweat, sand and mud;
it’s difficult to describe completely with just words.
Although my breakfast and light meal for lunch were properly prepared for me by the troops, at night I was supposed to provide for myself. It seems to be common training for improving survival ability while on the battleground.
Night in the Kaldia domain is long for lower-ranked soldiers that don’t even get candles. Since I’m also throwing up my food during training, at night my hunger would never, ever end, but because my own weakness is the cause, I desperately searched for anything edible at all that I could gather. In my previous life I never wanted for food, and in this life I was born and raised in a noble family that didn’t lack resources either, so I’ve never known until now just how painful an empty stomach could be.
It was good that Rashiok was allowed to help me, since searching for edible food with a five year old’s abilities was a bit beyond me. Rashiok was beginning to grow scales, and was the size of a small dog, and would roll around and enjoy our hunt for food. After I returned to the barracks, the “food” I collected would be checked for edibility, an actual soldier in training would have to check for poisons themselves, so it seems I was given preferential treatment in this.
Of course, I was at least properly taught about the poisons that could cause immediate death.
Although my stomach feels like it’s breaking every night, and even blowing bubbles at me could topple me over, at least it’s still been calm and quiet every time I visit the barracks.
For a powerful country with no wars, it feels like they have an almost abnormal level of importance attached to the training about food. I wonder if it’s a relic from the time when they became bandits because of scarcity of food… How dare them, something must be wrong with their heads. Is it that people’s spirits have become soft after developing civilization, or that they made this training for me because something’s wrong with them, I wonder which it is.
Because there were many types of poisonous mushrooms, that was the first lesson hammered into my brain.
Birds and rabbits are commonly eaten by the people in my domain, but no matter how many times I tried to hunt them with Rashiok, we were unable to catch even one.
There were only frogs with very little to eat on them, I learned that the bigger ones would be under the mud. Their eggs are supposed to be edible, but unfortunately it’s not the season for that right now.
The snakes that I could find were all rather large, and I was treated to a snow snake recently. Since they’re the main prey for the draconis, its nutritional value must be high.
Most spiders, even the venomous ones, can be edible when cooked.
Since many herbs are very poisonous and harmful for digestion, eating them will be only a last, last resort.
I collected a lot of fruits from various trees, but most were inedible. Since they would come up again when I threw up exactly the same as when they went in my stomach, I quickly gave up eating these.
What was easiest for me to capture was lizards. The drawback is that lizards must be cooked very well done over a fire in order to prevent parasites, but well, I’m learning now with my own body that humans are truly omnivorous.
Since my hunting results haven’t been very good the past few days, the day before yesterday I tried boiling grass in salt water, and yesterday I found an out of season cicada, also tried some of the weeds growing all over the place. It turns out that young pampas grass is actually edible, who would have thought…
“Charlie hasn’t been to the river yet, eh. There’s always lots of insects, snakes, and plants there, and if you give it your best shot you might even be able to catch a fish.”
“That this grubby brat is actually supposed to be a refined noble, ten out of ten people probably wouldn’t believe it.”
All the soldiers in training are calling me Charlie. Kamil must have spread it without me knowing, or maybe it’s an old name for something in this region. I have no idea whatsoever if it’s supposed to be derogatory or affectionate. I wonder if they’re taking it out on me because I’m a noble girl and they hate the aristocracy, or if they’re getting along well with me since we’re all comrades that are in this together, sharing similar meals.
Some days their attitudes would be as cold as ice, and some days they would be warm towards me as if I were their own child. Human emotions and feelings are so complicated that I don’t understand them even now.
“The river, huh… Charlie, I think you know this already, but if you go there take Kamil with you.”
“That’s right. Otherwise you might get lost, and can’t find your way back, you’ll be crying!”
The men were all treating me as a child with their language, and the soldiers in training were getting each other riled up with their playful banter. Well, it’s a fact that I’m technically still a child, so I just nodded without minding what they said, and just like always, the charm of a lovable child, which these fellows completely lacked, was able to cause most of these guys to fall silent in amazement.
I don’t mean to blame anyone but, even though I’ve adapted to life in the barracks, I still haven’t gone out from the land under direct control even once. The land under direct control also included a small patch of woods and a pond. I haven’t gone out far enough to the point where the barracks and mansion would no longer be visible, since I had felt that it would be better to stay within vision of adults I could reach just in case some sort of trouble happened.
“Oh, isn’t it about time for the kid to go to sleep? You’re going to be beaten up by Gunther again early in the morning, you know?”
The oldest soldier in training among the lot, who usually didn’t speak up too often, raised his voice, and caused a bout of laughter. Every day after breakfast, was the time for everyone to help out in the fields belonging to the area under direct control, other than me who would be useless even if I went to the fields, so I would receive swordsmanship instruction from Gunther instead. My sword would be knocked out of my hands dozens of times, and after that I would be receiving training in martial arts and getting beaten up, however not to a terrible extent. This was my usual daily routine.
Since I was getting worn out and pushed to the limits by Gunther every day, I could feel the other soldiers becoming slightly less reserved with me. After seeing their enemy’s daughter getting beaten up and rolled around in the dirt so much, it’s probably a load off their chests.
“That’s right. I’ll go to sleep now, good night everyone.”
I bid them good night politely, then slipped into my bed of straw. The instant I laid down, I could feel my consciousness slipping away from me and I fell asleep immediately.