Two young women that didn’t seem twenty years old yet, were dragged in front of me while frantically crying and screaming by my soldiers, they weren’t able to say anything comprehensible.
“Thanks for your work, sorry but, could you guys get out of this room now?”
I realize very well that my voice sounds quite raspy. The soldiers saluted me, then dashed out of the room like they were escaping from me.
I suppose I had indeed only given my soldiers the order to bring the rescued women before me without going into much detail, so this situation can’t be helped. The women had been discovered together with the bandit scum that my soldiers recently captured, with plenty of signs of abuse. It would only be natural that they’d be scared of my soldiers and other such men as well right now, increasing their fear. I complimented myself on having the young women from the village prepare something beforehand a few hours ago. I had asked them to prepare a bucket of hot water to wash with and some clean cloths.
“Go ahead and wipe down your bodies. After that, have a meal. It’s simple, but feel free to eat as much as you like.”
“Yes, domain lord-sama.”
The village girl who seemed to have a stronger will looked me in the eyes as she replied. The other girl just nodded her head in fright.
Earlier today around noon, the bandit group had been discovered in a small cottage quite a ways north from Nezu village. Although the summer days are long, it’s already getting late as it’s dinnertime now.
The mayor’s wife had food prepared for us. When we learned about the discovery and capture of the bandit group half an hour ago, we hurriedly contacted the Mansion of Golden Hills and had fruits, vegetables, and bread from there brought over. Ratoka, Claudia, and the three soldiers protecting me took turns in bringing foodstuffs over from the mansion, but Ratoka wasn’t able to hide his dislike of having to make the trip between the mansion and Nezu village twice. Even with a veil, his distaste was plain to see.
“……Don’t pout like that. I’ll even praise you.”
As I said so, I gave that awkward child three fruits known as a rockfruit. This fruit is similar to loquats from my original world. In Kaldia where no edible fruits or berries grow naturally, fruits are considered a luxury. Of course, I didn’t buy these, they were given to me recently as a gift when I was making social connections in the royal capital.
“Is this really fine?”
”I told you that I would praise you, didn’t I? Besides, it looked like you really wanted to try these in the royal capital.”
As my servant in training, Ratoka got to attend several parties and banquets together with me, but servants were only allowed to drink some water and tea, and were not permitted to touch the food for nobles. I know that this child has always had his sight fixed on this sweet-seeming fruit.
And so, Ratoka finally seemed to cheer up from his bad mood as he began eating, and I turned my sight back upon the two girls that were still weeping.
Both of them seemed to evoke a feeling of pity that would make one want to protect them. Although it was easy to infer from the fact that my army found several strands of their hair, parts of their hair was pulled out here and there. It was also easy to tell that they were subjected to violence, as there were multiple black and blue bruises on their bodies. There appeared to be sword injuries and even teeth marks on their arms and legs. Their clothes were tattered, torn almost completely to pieces around the breast area, and their skirts were quite torn up as well. While cleaning themselves up, it only made the injuries and damage even more painfully obvious to see. I think it’ll be the best for them if I help them get some new loose-fitting tunics, clothes typical to Kaldia citizens. If they wear something tight with buttons or a corset like what’s popular further inland in Arxia, I think that the clothes would only scrape against their injuries and constantly remind them of the pain. Since they’re now in front of their domain lord, I’ll help them regain their senses, and I shared the food transported here with them.
“Please eat. You’ll feel warmer after a meal.”
Helping them to clean their bodies, allowing them to eat their fill, having only women around them, that should help the two victimized women calm down. Their trembling finally eased as they looked around the room and saw that the only strangers were me and Ratoka, whom they believed to be a girl. At what I was about to do from now on, I started feeling a little melancholy. I need to ask them why the bandits had abducted them. I feel sorry for them that I’m going to be digging up their memories of the things that were probably done to them right after they’ve calmed down a little, but it’s my duty to do so.
“……Have you two calmed down a little?”
I can’t really do much else for the two of them emotionally, I merely stayed here in the same room as them all this time to get them used to my presence. I have a slight feeling of self-loathing right now, but I also simultaneously took out some charcoal and paper.
The two of them nodded nervously. They seemed like they were about to speak to me, but their mothers next to them shot me looks of disapproval. However, I ignored it and carried on.
“What violence those people did to you, anything they said to you, please try to remember it all as clearly as possible.”
I didn’t ask them if it would be alright to ask. This is information that I need to hear immediately.
The two young women instantly turned pale. It looked like they were trying their best to restrain themselves from crying again, as they relived their hellish memories.
At that moment, the charcoal in my hand broke.
I didn’t realize it until now, but it seems that I had been clenching it too tightly. As I took out a new piece of charcoal, I kept telling myself to calm down over and over.