I mobilized the remaining soldiers and had them dismember the ice lizard’s corpse, and burn it a distance away from the village. According to their report, even its bones melted and nothing remained.
The soldiers that had done battle with it suffered some frostbite, but it wasn’t too severe, and they were able to make gradual recoveries with application of warm water.
After a night’s rest, as we were preparing to depart for Fort Jugfena early next morning, we saw several villagers heading our way.
Gunther moved slightly in front of me as if to protect me. Claudia, who hasn’t been living in the Kaldia domain for that long, doesn’t know the political situation here and the villagers’ hostility towards me. Gunther remembers the birthday celebration incident here.
The people who had come were the village mayor, a man and a woman from the militia that I saw in the tent yesterday, and two women I didn’t know. One of the women was still very young, and her facial features resembled the village mayor, so I figured that she was probably his daughter.
She’s probably the one that was flogged along with the mayor for their complicity in inciting Ratoka to attack me. The other woman’s probably the woman named Marley that had allowed Ratoka to live with her.
“What are you doing here!”
Since the village mayor had brought along the two people punished with him for that incident, all the soldiers were alert and on guard. Their hostility towards the mayor was evident, and he stopped right when they spoke up.
“Good morning. I would like to thank the domain lord-sama and everyone from the domain army for defeating the magical beast……”
“If that was really your intention, why’d you bring those two women along with you?”
In front of the soldiers that had clearly threatening attitudes, the two people from the militia were trembling in fear. However, the two women behind them were looking down at the ground and seemed calm.
Slowly and quietly, I reached for the hilt of the short sword in my waist. The people of Cyril village hate those of Kaldia blood more than any other village, and I don’t know what they might attempt in a fit of passion.
“The child that was responsible for committing the crime of treason has already been executed. Why exactly have you appeared in front of my lord!”
The soldier that had called out the village mayor on why he came here was gripping his spear tightly with his hands. Gunther, and even Claudia who had a puzzled expression, both had their hands on their swords as well.
At that moment, the village mayor’s daughter raised her face. She looked at the soldiers resolutely, and she even looked Gunther, Claudia, and me directly in the eyes. I don’t know what she’s thinking, and I looked back into her eyes to try and read her emotions. Our eyes met for only a little less than two seconds.
Suddenly, the girl kneeled and lowered her head.
The soldiers were confused because they couldn’t tell what the girl was trying to do. The other woman, as if imitating the girl, kneeled as well.
The village mayor and the two militia members silently moved next to them. The two women prostrated themselves before me.
“W, what’s this……”
“Please listen, soldier-sama, these two……”
“We know very well our rudeness towards my lord. But, please, domain lord-sama, I beg you, forgive the two of us!”
Interrupting the village mayor, his daughter implored me directly in a loud voice while still kneeling.
This could be considered very disrespectful. For commoners such as villagers, they’re not supposed to directly address the nobility unless given permission. The girl might not know this however, and her voice sounded desperate for some reason, she sounded quite tragical.
What have you done, was the expression the mayor had on his face as he looked at the two of them. His daughter’s actions seem to have been completely unexpected for the mayor. I could tell that he had a bitter taste in his mouth from his angry expression at his daughter deciding to do something on her own without his permission.
I looked at the two of them bowing their heads towards me. Why did they seem that desperate, I wonder. I couldn’t see their expressions, and I couldn’t even analyze their tone of voice as neither of them had said anything since the girl’s outburst.
“You better not say something stupid.”
“……but I didn’t even say anything yet.”
With a strained expression full of tension, Gunther interrupted what I was going to say. But, I’m really not the type to give orders without having thought things over carefully first.
“Gunther, capture those two women and bring them in front of me.”
“Like I said…… Huh?”
“For their disrespect towards me just now, I said to capture them. They’re people that were associated with an act of treason, I don’t know what they could be plotting. Bring the two of them to me, and I’ll punish them directly.”
I suppressed myself so that my voice wouldn’t shake while giving my orders, and it sounded terribly dispassionate and cold to me. I wonder if it’s because a child’s high-pitched voice carries well and is easy to hear, I noticed the two kneeling women’s shoulders trembling.
Gunther looked at me with a dumbfounded look on his face. The soldiers surrounding me, the other two paralyzed villagers, everyone was looking at me with their mouths wide agape.
A gentle wind blew past the grassy field, shaking the blades of grass. Zaa, the sound of whistling wind surrounded us.
“What are you doing, Gunther. Your master is ordering you.”
While everyone was busy standing still looking at me, the next voice that spoke up was Claudia’s. Her favorite spear was in her right hand, and her golden hair was fluttering in the breeze as she weaved through the soldiers.
Gunther hurriedly followed after her. The two of them held the two kneeling women’s wrists behind their backs, restraining them as they rose up.
Claudia walked the girl in front of me without any hesitation. In comparison, Gunther couldn’t hide his confusion as he followed behind Claudia with the other woman.
This time, the two women were brought in front of me and made to kneel again, but even so they haven’t made a single sound of complaint.
“Did you know that you’re guilty of being disrespectful towards a noble? The girl with the red hair, you may answer.”
When I indicated for the mayor’s daughter to speak, her answer was an immediate no! And this time, her voice was shaking.
“What is it that you wanted me to know so badly, I wonder. You may speak briefly. I’ll listen to it before I decide on your punishment. Raise your head.”
Even I felt that the words coming out of my mouth were so arrogant. However, by some miracle Claudia seemed to understand my true intentions, and she didn’t use too much force on the girl, and tapped her gently on the shoulder to encourage her.
Although I had ostensibly called the two of them in front of me to punish them, my true goal was to listen to what they wanted. Even if the two of them really did intend to do me harm instead of wanting to apologize, I have the strongest two people in my army holding them down, so that should reduce the risk to me.
It’s reasonable that Claudia, who was raised as a noble, would understand what I’m doing faster than Gunther did. Even though Claudia normally behaves the way she does, at certain times it feels like there’s such a gap in her abilities when she suddenly becomes competent like this.
The two women raised their heads, and looked me in the face. Then, their faces turned truly pale.
“……, Domain lord, sama……”
Their voices were shaking so badly, that I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrow. They kept staring at me in a daze, their eyes were filled with fear, and they were biting their lips.
“-That’s right. I’m Eliza Kaldia, your domain lord.”
Surely to the two of them, they must have seen my father in me. With my straight black hair that reflected the sunlight, and my red eyes the color of blood, I’m the spitting image of my father after all.