We took over and moved our rear communication base to one of Densel’s villages, named Clement village. The Densel farmers were all trying to remain as silent as possible as they trembled while watching our soldiers that had arrived from Fort Jugfena.
…I’ve heard that Rindarl has a law about treating the civilians of other countries fairly.
To begin with, the Rindarl Union is made up of the countries that split up from the original vast former Rindarl Kingdom. Historically, this law has always in place to help assimilate the citizens of any conquered country into its territory.
However, that law of theirs has nothing whatsoever to do with Arxia.
Ever since Arxia became an established country in its current state, Arxia has become a major isolationist country, and it’s been six hundred years since Arxia has last had any wartime agreements with other countries.
Just thirty years ago, there was war between the Densel Dukedom and the now destroyed Artolas Kingdom. According to the Clement villagers, armies from both sides occupied this village back then as well.
That’s why some of the villagers still had memories from that time.
Unlike thirty years ago where they would be assured of survival as long as they remained obedient, we had more soldiers this time, so they had less food as we needed to take their food to provide for our soldiers. It was a worse treatment than the previous war.
Clement village had an atmosphere filled with anxiety and distrust at not knowing if they could believe their lives would be guaranteed even if they complied with our orders.
The atmosphere felt so heavy, pressing down against me from all sides, that I was reminded of that day when I first arrived in Cyril village.
“This isn’t exactly a pleasant atmosphere.”
As soon as Wiegraf finally got a chance to sit down and rest, as he’d been running around setting things up right after we arrived, he complained to me about the feeling in the air. He looked as if he was a drowning person pleading for assistance, and I nodded in sympathy.
Although it was uncomfortable, my Kaldia army and I had already gotten used to this type of atmosphere thanks to prior experience. However, the soldiers and knights from Fort Jugfena, having no such previous experience in dealing with angry civilians, were quite shaken by it all.
It won’t be good to expose them to such negative emotions for a prolonged period when we haven’t even reached the frontlines yet.
“If something ignites the spark, do you think there could be an uprising?”
“…You’re annoyingly right about the possibility,”
“Although it’s a shameful story, in the past, I’ve been in a similar situation to this before.”
“Even though I don’t want to believe that you have such an experience since you’ve barely just become a teenager, it’s quite regretful that you had such a childhood, isn’t it…”
Wiegraf muttered so as he clutched at his head.
We’ve taken over the largest residence in the village as our strategy room, which was the village mayor’s house. From the window, I could see the area where the farmers were gathered together.
Even before we made this village into our temporary rear communication base, the Arxian army’s been forcing the village to turn over most of their food supplies to us so we could use it as provisions for the front lines. It’s been eight months since then. All the farmers were working on their agricultural work while being guarded by soldiers, and their faces were grim while their eyes contained both fear and anger.
“…This is basically the same as slavery.”
I stated it as I saw it. The Arxian Kingdom doesn’t recognize slavery. But right now, these Rindarl farmers have no guarantee of their lives, no freedom, and they must give all the food they produce other than enough for them to eat over to us… Whether they’re called slaves or serfs, what’s the difference?
I have no intention of sympathizing with the Rindarl citizens, though. They should have been informed already that they could convert to the Church of Arxia’s Xia sect when the occupation began in order to receive asylum.
It’s just that these people have nothing to do with their country’s actions. Since their everyday lives are basically no different now from that of slaves, heavy feelings have been welling up within them.
“Originally, for the war with Densel, Arxia had been intending to eventually release the Densel prisoners of war to Planates. But since Planates has declared their enmity towards us as well over the Prince Albert incident, Arxia will no longer be able to release the prisoners until the war is over. …Only when the war is over will talks about the captured prisoners of war finally be possible.”
Wiegraf ended up responding to my sarcastic remark meant only as irony, as he took out and spread a map on the table after only such a short rest.
When the war is over, eh. I see; indeed, I should try to help conclude this war as fast as possible.
“If only this war could have been over already. For example, eight months ago.”
“Well, well. According to our beloved country of Arxia, it’s important for us to keep our non-interference policy for the so-called sake of everyone’s peace.”
Wiegraf didn’t even attempt to hide his irritation as he said so. He began arranging chess pieces on the map as red pigeons kept arriving for us with reports on the battle situation at the frontlines.
I stopped watching the farmers outside and returned my focus to the table in front of me. It’s time for strategizing.
“-Alrighty, I know it’s all quite sudden, but you’re going to have to get quite busy and move out again as well.”
It seemed almost ironical when Wiegraf took some red flowers from the flower vase in the house, bent them, and placed them on the map as a marking.
The place where he marked for me was – farther east of the rolling hills where the current frontline battles were taking place. It was the capital of Densel, its largest city as well as the home base of the entire Densel army, the city of Eris.