“- What’s the matter. To have committed such disrespect towards me, it must have been because you had something to beg of me.”
I wonder what it could be that they had to beg of me when they’ve already committed such a crime against me before. Being confronted with the villagers’ stupidity right in front of me, my mind wandered off from the two women kneeling in front of me and what they had to talk about.
Currently in the Kaldia domain, there’s no sacred shrines dedicated to the Ar Xia church. Since teaching the laws is considered the work of the church, and that villagers usually don’t hire teachers, I remembered that during my birthday celebration, it didn’t take place at a sacred shrine like it was supposed to, and villagers took the place of church officials instead.
By the way, all the church’s sacred shrines in Kaldia had been destroyed by my father. His reason was that “they were too luxurious.”
At that time, there was an economic crisis in the domain caused by father, so he made a law banning extravagance. The domain’s citizens originally had modest dwellings and lifestyles to begin with, while those from the church had better stone dwellings, and were able to afford slightly fancier clothing as well. He probably chased the church out because the people’s lives had been so poor for several years that they could barely keep the roofs over their heads, and the church was calling attention to it.
Using the excuse of rebuilding the domain, father had seized money, food, and people from the citizens, and the clergy from other domains were excluded from here so they couldn’t call attention to the terrible situation here, so education level is at a minimum. Basically if he kept outsiders out of the domain, the people here wouldn’t know any better. Well, this all happened fifteen years ago anyway.
In order to help the new citizens assimilate, it’ll be best if I can get the church to return. Ever since this kingdom was founded, it’s been inseparable from the church.
“Please, I implore you. We’ll pay the fee for the incident that orphan caused, so please don’t take us away to become ‘laborers’……!”
Interrupting my thoughts, I heard a heartrending cry. I blinked, snapping myself out of my thoughts, and looked back at the two women kneeling in front of me. What did she just say? Laborer……?
“……I see, so that’s what it was about. I understand.”
The girl’s shoulders were shaking badly. It seems that my voice came out colder than I thought it would. However, although I understood why the two of them seemed so desperate and sad, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disappointment now.
Father would gleefully kill any citizens that committed crimes. On top of that, he would force entire villages to be responsible for criminals as well and have to pay “fees” or else be subjected to becoming a “laborer.”
“……Could you stop thinking that I’m the same as the previous domain lord?”
I sentenced the two women to travel along with us to Fort Jugfena in order to atone for their disrespect. Claudia did a simple check on their bodies, and she didn’t find anything like poison or a weapon.
Since Fort Jugfena is likely to become a battlefield soon, the village mayor tried to appeal to me as I was going to be taking his only daughter along with me, but when I asked him if he wanted to take responsibility on her behalf instead, he quieted down.
And so, although it was still dim and early in the morning, we finally started heading for Fort Jugfena again.
“Have the two of them carry some of our things. Paulo, I’m putting you in charge of watching them.”
Today as well he was the novice soldier in charge of leading my horse’s reins, and I ordered him to go to the front and have the two women carry some light items.
Since my horse isn’t going at a fast pace, I don’t really need someone to pull the reins for me. Although he was leading my horse in name, it was more like all he was doing was keeping me company and chatting with me.
“Eh, ah, yes.”
At receiving his sudden order, Paulo looked at Gunther for a moment. However, when he saw that Claudia next to him was nodding, he went over to the front without saying anything.
Again, Claudia was able to understand my true intentions quickly. Since the other soldiers have terrible attitudes towards the two women as they were associated with the orphan’s act of treason, I figured I’d have Paulo accompany them instead, and it must have appealed to her code of chivalry, because her eyes seemed to be sparkling.
Because Claudia never hides her feelings, in a way, it’s actually more fun to be with her than anyone else. She’s not like a noble at all and allows herself to be swayed by her feelings too easily, but at the very least, there was no need to be on guard with her and look for hidden intentions.
But, taking Claudia’s feelings into consideration, I won’t be able to take the two women to the actual forefront of battle at Fort Jugfena. It can be said that it’s a weak point if I want to use Claudia. Given the current situation, I can only leave things up to Claudia, and trust her to guard my life.
I simply had the two women carry some light items, since Claudia’s an important person that I need to use until I’m able to safely return to Kaldia from Fort Jugfena. She probably understands that I can’t simply just send any other soldier to look after them. After all, Claudia and I are the only other females.
We made camp tonight as we neared the border of my domain. Just like yesterday, the soldiers handily put up some tents, cooked some food with simple stoves, and put up a simple wooden fence around the area.
Because we’re in the lake area, it’s terribly muddy. The soldiers washed their feet and shoes at the nearby lake, and hunted for some food in the surrounding forest.
I remained at the tents. As long as there’s no urgent situation, it seems that the nobility are allowed to take it easy. Of course, the flip side of it is that nobles are supposed to work harder for the sake of everyone if there actually is an urgent situation.
Just like yesterday, I sat down where a cushion and cloth had been provided for me on the ground, and I played with a rock that I picked up that I felt resembled a chess piece from my previous life, and Claudia waiting beside me began to pace about restlessly.
When I followed her line of sight to outside the tent, it seems that the two women I had brought with us from Cyril village had lit up a fire in one of the stoves. They seemed to be much better at using the stoves than the soldiers, and it seemed like Claudia had something she wanted to say.
“Ooh, do you need me to do something?”
“I would like some hot water, could I trouble you to get some for me?”
I implied that she could go over to the stove, and a joyful smile blossomed on Claudia’s face. Since Gunther’s also guarding the entrance to the tent, it’s not much of a problem even if I send Claudia a slight ways off.
“I’ll bring some to you right away!”
Claudia flew out of the tent with so much energy. ……When she returned later, it took a few seconds for her to realize that she had forgotten to bring me any water.