“Are you telling me to not exploit the prisoners?”
Marchronis, who had a preparatory meeting with Souma about the treatment of the prisoners, who were transferred to a detention camp for the duration of the reclamation, was grandly perplexed by what Souma told him.
Souma announced a strict prohibition of treating the prisoners as slaves. And not only that, he gave detailed instructions in order to prevent mistreatment by going as far as ensuring three meals per day for the prisoners and prohibiting punishment with whips and such by the detention camp’s overseers.
Different to modern times, where the civil rights of prisoners during war are protected by various treaties, the prisoners on this Seldeas Continent were seen as part of the war spoils.
If they are nobles or the sons of wealthy merchants, they become important hostages as it’s possible to demand ransom, but when it comes to the great number of common soldiers, they are usually exploited as slaves on farms or in mines, or sold to other countries. Yet, that was a natural right of the victor.
Of course Marchronis doesn’t get any enjoyment out of abusing the Holmean soldiers, his former comrades. However, he still thought that the prisoners should be exploited to some extent and that the quantity and quality of their meals should be restricted.
That’s simply because he considered it of no benefit to do otherwise.
If you only think about the benefits, holding back on harsh labor and providing proper meals rather maintains the prisoners’ health which will turn into a huge long-term gain.
However, placing them deliberately into a cruel environment mostly aims at stealing the prisoners’ stamina and willpower to cause a rebellion. If they are allowed to save strength and have the leeway to think about useless things, the prisoners, who were enemies to begin with, will plot their escape or an uprising. In order for things to not turn out like that, they are forced into harsh labor and have their meals limited.
But, Souma forbids that practice.
Even if it hadn’t been Marchronis, anyone else would have naturally been bewildered as well.
In response to that, Souma hit his chest once, and says, “That’s what I think.” The very same day, when Marchronis and Setius had transported them to the area opened for development while half in doubt, the prisoners gathered in front of Souma.
Souma stood on a platform in front of the several hundred prisoners and started with this:
“Those wanting to run away, please feel free to do so. I don’t mind.”
Upon that statement, not only the prisoners but even Marchronis and Setius look up to Souma with surprise coloring their looks.
Even though he realized that everybody was astonished, Souma ignored it and continued his words,
“Of course we won’t do something as bothersome as chasing you. If you follow the northern road, you will be able to go to another city, but should you get lost on the way, it will be the best to head for the triangular mountain located in the direction over there.”
As he even started to kindly explain the escape route, the prisoners began to stir.
“Ah, I forgot to mention it, but as you might expect, arriving in Bolnis and not being arrested won’t work. If possible, it would be a big help if you could avoid the city and keep on walking towards the east.”
At that point Souma reveals a nasty smile.
“If you walk for 10 or 20 days without any breaks, you will be able to return to Holmea, so please do your best.”
At that moment those, who are quick on the uptake, starting with Marchronis, realized Souma’s intention.
“However, please make sure by all means to not attack or rob travelers or pioneer villages just because you’re hungry, okay? If you do something like that, even I won’t have any option but to hunt you down. Unless you have the confidence to shake off the pursuit of the excellent zoan warriors in these plains, I cannot recommend you doing something like that.”
Once they were told this much, the majority of the prisoners also guessed Souma’s intention and became shocked. Souma continued speaking in high spirits in front of them,
“And, when you spend the nights in the plains, make sure to never let the fire go out. Thanks to the battles in this area for many years, a great number of ferocious wolves, who learned the taste of people’s flesh, are apparently loitering in the area. If you were to be attacked by them, you will be helpless. Just the thought of being eaten alive is horrifying.”
What Souma wants to say by going as far as putting up a play by quivering while tightly hugging his own shoulders is that they will lose their lives pointlessly, if they escape from this detention camp.
Moreover, Souma’s announcements are no empty threats either.
“You don’t have to worry so much. If it’s this detention camp, it will be protected by zoan warriors who have become used to deal with those wolves.”
And then he thrust his right hand high up into the air and spread his five fingers.
The prisoner’s eyes focus on Souma’s hand as if being drawn to it.
“I will release you, if you work here for five years! And not just that. Although it will be a small amount, I promise that I will give you money and food as well. Also, those, who perform especially well, will have that period shortened and will experience an increase in money and food given upon their release!”
A commotion runs through the prisoners due to this.
Machronis leaked a sigh of admiration in front of that spectacle.
After being confronted with the reality that they won’t be able to escape, they were guaranteed safety if they stay in the detention camp. Moreover, the bait of being released early depending on their work performance was dangled in front of them. It might be called foul play, but it’s a clever move.
Machronis welcomes Souma, who got off the platform after finishing his rough explanation, and says while smiling wryly,
“As ever, you have a nasty character.”
However, there are still incautious people who increasingly become rebellious and disobedient the less suppressed they are.
“I ain’t joking. I will definitely escape.”
The one who strongly vowed that was a young prisoner with the name of Doug. Being the third son of a poor farmer family to begin with, he has become a soldier for Holmea due to being troubled with making a living. From the start he has been egoistic, confident in his physical strength and blessed with a good physique. Even within the Holmean army he stood out conspicuously. While coming from a poor family, he advanced through the ranks as far as being entrusted with a platoon.
However, seemingly having used up his luck with that, Doug ended up becoming Souma’s prisoner in the Decisive Battle over Bolnis, which was his very first campaign.
But, because he became a prisoner without even having fought all that much, Doug himself didn’t believe for the tiniest bit that he had lost and that it had been the Holmean army that lost on its own. Hence he felt all the more resistant towards being exploited by reclamation work.
“Hey, you guys, we will run away from here.”
Behind the backs of the different races monitoring them, Doug called out to the comrades around him.
“Buut, how are we goin’ to do that?”
“I will think about that from now on. While making them lower their guard by staying obedient for some time, we will prepare our escape.”
Doug loses his patience due to the indecisive attitude of his comrades, who simply have a wait-and-see attitude, fearing punishments.
“Got it, you lot? In this place we will definitely be put to work until we die, okay!?”
Upon those words, one of his comrades timidly said,
“But, we’ve been told that we’ll be released if we persist for five years.”
However, Doug didn’t believe in that from the very start.
“It’s plain as day that it’s a downright lie! No way that I’ll get tricked by that!”
His comrades had expressions making it obvious that they wanted to give further comments, but since the overseers had started to assign work to the prisoners, the conversation stopped at that point.
The young, muscular Doug was assigned to dig up the hard ground by the overseers. Doug, who had been allotted the work that uses the most stamina, lamented over his bad luck in his mind, but once he was given a pickax by the overseers, he fixedly gazed at it.
“This is made from iron? Hey, that’s a great pickax.”
The pickaxes, which Doug has seen so far, were only the good pickax with a metallic head, which he borrowed when he worked as tenant farmer for a wealthy farmer, and the ones where a sharpened stone had been tied to a wooden handle at his family’s home.
To own better farming tools after having become a prisoner is quite ironic.
But, no matter how great the farming tool he’s allowed to use, Doug hasn’t a sliver of motivation. He was in a state where he only moves his hands so that his idling wouldn’t be found out.
While continuing such noncommittal work, Doug indirectly keeps an eye on his surroundings.
Where’s this place here? How many guards are there?
He tried to grasp as much information as possible to escape from here.
However, eventually his eyes met with the eyes of a dwarf who was watching them.
Shit, have I been marked?
Was Doug’s assumption spot on? The dwarf walked over with rough footsteps and having his expression twisted in displeasure, obvious with a glance at his face that had a dense beard.
He was resolved that he might get even whipped once, but the dwarf snatched away the pickax in Doug’s hands. Although he was ready for a lashing, he most certainly didn’t expect to get punished with an iron tool. Doug’s body stiffened up.
However, the dwarf snorts grandly with a “Humph!” and starts hitting his own body’s ass, waist, shoulders, arms and the hand holding the pickax with the palm of the other hand. After that he spreads both legs to the extent of his shoulders’ width, firmly plants his feet and swings the pickax down towards the ground. The pickax sinks deeply into the ground alongside a hearty crunching sound. The dwarf lifts the handle, using the pickax as lever and digs up the hard ground.
And then, after snorting grandly once more, he tossed the pickax back to Doug.
He doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but he catches the pickax either way. However, even though the dwarf returned the pickax, he still stands in front of Doug with his arms folded, showing no indication of returning to his previous spot. As it was unavoidable for him to be watched, Doug decided to work seriously for a little while.
But, once he swung the pickax three times, the dwarf snatched the pickax away once more. And again the dwarf makes the gesture of hitting his own body, digs up the ground after swinging the pickax, and throws it back to Doug.
Once that process has repeated itself many times, the dwarf sighed very deeply before long after taking the pickax away. Doug became furious due to that exaggerated sigh, but he had no option but to endure in his position as prisoner. He tried to get through the situation by acting meekly while shrinking his body.
But, without punishing him, the dwarf pointed at a group doing other work and waved with his hand at Doug as if driving away a puppy.
“What the heck’s wrong with that dwarf?”
Doug cursed, but since it would be absurd to get defiant over something like this and receive punishment for that, he obediently went to the indicated place.
The next work Doug had been sent to was to shovel the earth, which had been broken apart with pickaxes, on a handcart.
“What’s wrong, Doug?”
An acquaintance calls out to Doug as he arrived.
“No clue, but they told me to work over here.”
“Don’t stand out too much.”
Receiving the spade that was handed over while being told that, Doug frowned.
“What’s this? This spade has a weird shape I see for the first time.”
Speaking of the spades Doug knows about, it’s wooden boards with a blade, which was covered by a metallic layer, attached to the board’s end. But, what he’s holding in his hands right now was a spade that had a blade in the shape of a spoon attached to it. If one looks properly, the back of the blades, located on both sides of the handle’s base, is round. It’s been made so that you can step on it with a foot.
“Aah. —I’m told those are called 『Shovel』 or something like that.”
Because Doug had now a strangely-shaped spade too, he began to work after being taught how to use it, but once he actually did it, it went so easy that he got surprised. The spoony blade made out of iron has been sharply tapered to a point at its end, just like a sword’s point. Thus if you place your body weight on your foot as it’s done with a foot plough, even hard ground can be dug up roughly. Besides, because the whole blade has become a spoon, it’s also easy to scoop up the soil.
I wonder how much easier farming would become if I brought back this one to my home village?
As he’s working while pondering about something like that, he becomes distracted in addition to having no motivation.
Once that happened, it was found out by a dwarf watching this area. The dwarf arrives with heavy steps, snatches the spade in Doug’s hands away, and repeats the same thing the previous dwarf did.
Eventually Doug realized a certain thing.
Is this possibly their way of teaching me the work?
However, he immediately laughs that idea off. Just in there the heck would you find overseers that teach working to prisoners? But, no matter how he mulls it over, he can’t think of anything else.
The dwarf, who noticed Doug getting distracted due to pondering about those things, stabbed the spade into the ground full of irritation. Doug, who came to his senses because of the ground being gouged out, stiffened his body to receive a severe scolding, but as before, the dwarf only sighed very deeply.
Somehow Doug feels that the dwarf is disappointed while thinking “This guy’s useless,” flares up against his better judgment, and instinctively snatches the spade out of the dwarf’s hand.
Even I have been a farmer originally. I worked hard on the fields since my time as a brat. This kind of work is no big deal if I put in a little effort.
With such a conceit, Doug properly spreads his legs, lowers the center of his gravity, powerfully wields the spade and shovels the soil on the handcart. After repeating that several times, he looks at the dwarf as if asking him “How about that!” The dwarf nods in satisfaction as if saying “So you can actually do it,” and then leaves.
“Serves ya right!”
After cursing with a quiet voice at the back of the leaving dwarf, he begins once again to shovel the soil.
When a wooden board was clanged, signifying break-time, after a short time, a great amount of sweat was streaming down from Doug’s body with steam rising from it as if he had hot water poured on him. Wiping away the sweat on his forehead with a feeling of satisfaction and exaltation after having worked out plentifully, Doug suddenly realized.
“…Why am I getting all serious about this?”
With the day’s work over, it was time for dinner.
Together with the other prisoners, Doug lined up at the queue for receiving his meal while holding a wooden bowl in his hand.
The meals so far, when he had been locked up in Bolnis, was the standard food: either hard bread and salty soup with some vegetables, or a thin wheat porridge cooked with goat milk. By no means could it be called extravagant, but for prisoner meals it was fairly good.
Once he turns his face sideways while lining up in the line and looks at the place of the food distribution, it seems to be wheat porridge’s turn today. Neither the taste nor the amount is bad, but Doug, who got tired from eating it as expected, becomes dejected.
As his turn arrived, wheat porridge was poured into his wooden bowl, but due to something like a reddish brown board having been placed on top of the porridge, Doug knit his brows and asked.
“Hurry up and move on. You’re blocking the line.”
Having been brusquely chased away, Doug clicked his tongue and roughly picked up a mug with diluted ale that had been placed on top of a nearby table. Afterwards he joins his comrades who have already received their food portion.
“Geeze. What’s their problem?”
Doug cursed, but there’s no response. Once he noticed that, he saw his comrades being immersed in poking the thing placed on top of the porridge with their wooden spoons or sniffing its scent to investigate its true identity.
“I wonder, what’s this…?”
Everyone tilted their heads to the side upon on of them muttering those words. Another one voices out a guess while half in doubt.
“This is meat…isn’t it?”
Everyone raised surprised voices at that.
“Meat, you say!?”
“Don’t talk bullshit. Like hell they will feed something like meat to a prisoner!”
“But, this is jerky-like.”
If seen by a modern person, they might wonder what’s up with the uproar over a simple slice of meat. However, the only ones able to regularly eat meat in this world were wealthy merchants, royalty and titled nobility. The opportunities for ordinary people to eat meat were limited to only festivals and similar. To say nothing of it not being an ingredient that would be added to the meals of prisoners.
“So, what kind of meat is this?”
“Don’t tell me, it ain’t human flesh, right?”
Because they were taught in the army that the zoan are wild beasts lacking reason, there were some who believed the rumors that the zoan eat human flesh.
Just as they were greatly troubled whether to eat it or not as they didn’t know the meat’s true identity, one of their comrades, who helped with the food distribution today, turned up and told them about the meat’s origin.
“It seems to be cow meat.”
It was dried meat of the cows provided as part of the prisoners’ food by the zoan.
Doug said that full of scorn and disappointment.
If you were to talk about meat in those days, it would be either pig or chicken. Deer or rabbits, occasionally caught by a hunter, were a treat.
But, only cows are different. It was common knowledge that the meat of cows is tough and disgusting.
Because they had huge expectations towards the meat, the disappointment of Doug’s group was just as big.
“Well, I guess it’s better than none at all…”
Saying so, they unwillingly scooped up the meat with their spoons and ate it.
At that instant, all of them cry out in surprise.
“T-This is cow?”
“I never ate such a cow meat.”
That’s because the state of the cow meat, which they ate so far, was different.
Back then cows were precious cattle for farming, and not to be used as food. Hence, the cow meat, which farmers could taste, was taken from old cows that had lost their use. Because of that, the meat was tough and bad-tasting.
However, the cows, which had been gathered together by the zoan, are those which freely grew up in these vast plains. There’s no way for their meat to be disgusting.
“O-O-Oohh! What’s this!? The inside of my mouth seems to hurt….to be hot.”
“Is it rotten meat…?”
“No, this is the taste of the black beads covering it.”
“If you get used to it, these are rather tasty.”
Moreover, the knowledge about spices to make dishes delicious and to erase the meat’s bad odor had developed far in the cuisine of the zoan, whose use meat as staple food. Speaking of seasoning used to add flavor, it would be nothing more than salt for commoners, and even royalty and titled nobility didn’t have much more than fish sauce and mustard in this era. The big shock, which Doug’s group experienced due to the unknown taste brought about by the zoan’s spices, was something completely unimaginable for a modern Japanese.
In a past epoch when Europe relied on importing pepper from India, pepper was exchanged for the same weight in gold and silver. Moreover, in light of the historical truth that even wars took place over pepper, it’s very obvious how much people are mesmerized by spices.
“You idiots! What are you getting lured in by something ridiculous such as meat!?”
Yet, Doug strongly rebukes his comrades who are making merry due to the meat.
“There’s no way for me to be shut up with only this much!”
Once he says so, he tosses the meat into his mouth as if it’s nothing of significance. After chewing it only a few times, he swallows it down without even taking the time to properly taste it.
His comrades, who were overwhelmed by Doug’s menacing look, timidly agreed with “You’re right.”
However, Doug noticed that all of them were biting one little piece after the other from the small amount of meat in order to savor it as long as possible.
Good grief, what spineless cowards.
Doug cursed at them inside his chest, but his eyes unconsciously followed the bitten meat of his comrades.
Several days after the work had started.
Waking up as usual in the morning, Doug sat down on the bare ground, joining the circle of his comrades, and ate the rationed breakfast. Suddenly an overseer turns up.
“Everyone! Keep eating and listen veeery closely!”
Wondering what’s going on, Doug and the others intently stare at the overseer putting down their spoon filled with porridge.
“Today is the day of the Fire God. Therefore today will be a day off to show our gratitude to the sun! All of you are to rest your bodies for today. Make sure to thank Lord Soma for his compassion.”
That was all the overseer said before quickly leaving.
The prisoners looked at each other.
“It’s a day off because of the day of the Fire God; what’s that about?”
“Something like it being necessary to rest to thank the sun, right?”
The prisoners’ bewilderment is understandable.
In reality things like a Sabbath, which determined certain days where you don’t do anything like in Christianity and Judaism, don’t exist on the Seldeas Continent. Knowing that, Souma established a day off for one of the seven days of a week, like in the modern era.
This system would be handed down to the entire continent by the imprisoned soldiers that were released later on. It spread across the whole continent as six-day workweek system, where you rest one day in the week, as it has become commonplace in the modern era, but that’s a story for another time.
“Holidays for prisoners?”
“I never heard of something like that.”
They were told that it’s fine to rest, but the prisoners were simply perplexed by the holidays which they had never actually experienced until now.
What stirred them up even more are the sounds of metal hitting against metal, audible from the smithy which had been erected inside the detention camp.
“We have been told to rest, so why are they working?”
Those were the sounds of the dwarves repairing the damaged farming tools. Even though the dwarves among the overseers, who said that it would be fine to rest, are working like that without taking a break, they told the prisoners to take a day off. Due to this mismatched situation, the prisoners are somehow unable to settle down.
“Say, can we really take a day off?”
Due to a comrade asking that while looking anxious, Doug lies down on the ground in a deliberately exaggerated manner.
“Don’t ask me! We were told to rest. Isn’t it best to simply accept being allowed to do so!?”
However, even though he said all that, Doug couldn’t help to be bothered by the sound of the dwarves hitting the farming tools which he could hear from the smithy.
Several months have passed since the reclamation began.
The work in the section assigned to Doug and the others is mostly finished. The remaining parts will also be done by the end of the day. If one shifts their attention to the other sections, all of them are at a similar progress in their work.
The land, which had only overgrown grass and a few bushes in the past, nowadays had transformed into an area where fields spread out as far as one can see.
Even the reclamation, which was no more than labor imposed on the prisoners at first, made Doug feel somewhat deeply emotional as the end was drawing near like this.
As he’s indulging in such emotions, one of his comrades calls out to him.
“Hey, when are those zoan going to come?”
Last night they were told that they will head to the next reclamation area as soon as they finish the work around here. It’s a story about the zoan warriors being supplemented in order to watch them while traveling.
Considering it normally, it’s impossible to regard an increase in the number of people watching them as pleasant. But, for the prisoners staying in this reclamation area the zoan occasionally arriving as substitution for the guards was a huge diversion.
That’s because of the presents brought by those zoan.
Zoan warriors act proudly at strange places. Seemingly regarding an empty-handed arrival as point of a warrior’s honor, they almost always arrived while bringing the meat of cows and such, which they bought along the way. Moreover, not only the the guarding soldiers, but even the prisoners are treated to that meat. That’s why this turned into a big pleasure for the prisoners in this reclaimed land with its lacking entertainment.
“Yeah… The last meat soup was really delicious.”
“Since we split it with everyone, there was almost no meat, but for the umami of the meat to match with the soup like that; it was a true feast.”
“Although it was just a bit, cow intestines got into my bowl, but those were tasty with their crispiness while being chewed.”
The man speaking last was ganged up on by his comrades around him with the words, “What are you eating that all by yourself!?”
“Are you guys idiots? Aren’t you getting lured in by the likes of meat?
Doug spit out towards his comrades that were messing around.
At that time a single of them speaks up.
“Hey! The zoan came!”
At that yell, everyone stopped working and shifted their attention towards the group of zoan walking their way. What they are curious about is of course whether they are bringing some meat or something else.
Even Doug is no exception to this.
His eyes unconsciously shift towards the back of the zoan.
“Oh, hooray! They have meat with them.”
Once they realize that the zoan are carrying huge pieces of meat on their backs, the prisoners raise loud cheers.
“I wonder, is it going to be grilled meat today evening? Or maybe soup?”
“Yeah. I’m looking forward to it.”
While listening to his comrades’ voices, Doug gulped down his saliva.
The dinner on that day was – as expected by Doug and the others – soup with cow meat.
“With this the reclamation in this area is done! We will move to the next area on the day after tomorrow! Lord Soma wishes for you to rest your body tomorrow.”
Marchronis’ announcement spelling the end of reclamation in this area didn’t enter the ears of Dough and the other prisoners. Their senses were focused on the big pot behind Marchronis and his men. Due to the appetizing scent wafting over to them from there, Doug’s group prayed that the speeches will finish quickly while being troubled by the overflowing saliva, no matter how often they swallow it back down, since a while ago.
Even though Marchronis was aware of that from the prisoners’ behavior, he just smiled wryly without blaming them and pointed at the several barrels placed next to the hot pot.
“Also, in order to reward you fine men for your performance, you will be treated to congratulatory ale by Lord Soma. Make sure to give your thanks to Lord Soma!”
At that moment the prisoners suddenly erupted into cheers.
Until now they drank diluted ale instead of water, but it’s been a long time since they last drank ale tasting like alcohol.
A delicious meat soup and nostalgic ale.
It’s impossible for them to not be delighted over this.
Because the overseers allowed them to let a bit loose for just tonight, Doug and the other prisoners enjoyed meal and booze.
The next morning Doug found himself exposed to the wind at the outskirts of the detention camp while having a throbbing headache due to a hangover. He had never drunk that much before, but because it’s been quite a long time since he last could taste proper ale, the alcohol seemed to have been unexpectedly effective.
A voice from behind was directed at Doug, who was in a pleasant mood, recalling last night’s fooling around.
“Hey, do you have a moment?”
Once he turned around, his acquaintances were standing there. They nudged each other with their elbows and exchanged eye signals, but eventually one of them began to speak to Doug with a timid look.
“Well, it’s about the matter of escaping, you know…”
With only that much Doug got a grasp on most of the rest.
“Damn! What are ya guy’s yapping ’bout? Are those balls hanging down at your groin just a decoration!? Listen! We will definitely run away from this place and go back to our villages!”
His comrades revealed troubled, smiling while crying expressions upon those words.
Accordingly Doug unintentionally averted his face to the side and quickly said,
“But, it makes no sense to fail due to hurrying! Isn’t it the best to wait for a good chance at ease!?”
Once his comrades, who were dumbfounded for a little while, noticed what Doug was trying to say, they repeatedly nodded while saying “That’s a great idea!”
Of course Souma’s plan to treat the prisoners well like that was met with a lot opposition by his surroundings. Especially the many people, who were forced to make bitter experiences as prisoners of the humans, raised criticizism, saying that he’s too generous.
However, when Souma heard that, he laughed and replied,
“I am generous? What a thing to say! There’s no one as vicious as I am.”
Due to everyone tilting their heads in confusion, wondering what so vicious about treating the prisoners kindly, Souma answered following,
“It’s simple to get your revenge for the past by abusing the human prisoners in the same way as the humans did with you. But, something like that will only clear away your grudges.”
However, even after being told that, the people, who actually experienced bad things after being forced into slavery by the humans, can’t understand.
“Rather, I will ban the usage of prisoners.”
Everyone was surprised due to the unexpected words out of Souma’s mouth.
“I’m sure I told you. Our enemy is the system of this world. The human race, which propagates the Holy Faith, is the superior race. Tthe true enemy is the mistaken ideology that the other races should perish as they are inferior to humans.”
That was something he also said during the “Declaration of Iron.” Beginning with Shyemul, several people nod powerfully.
“However, will the humans be able to believe in the Holy Faith’s words of 『The zoan are mindless beasts』 even while knowing zoan warriors who treat them with respect even as party that lost in battle? Will they be able to agree with the Holy Faith’s 『The dwarves are an inferior race』 even after having experienced the excellent dwarven technology with their own bodies?”
At the moment he said that, Souma noticed Jahangil staring at him intensely. It’s an expression, where Souma doesn’t know what he’s thinking as the characteristic faces of dinosaurians are difficult to read, but Jahangil’s tail repeatedly struck the floor. Having somehow managed to understand what Jahangil is expecting, Souma went with the question, “Aren’t the dinosaurians an extremely powerful race?”, since he couldn’t come up with any other, proper words on the spot.
Souma felt relieved since a satisfied nasal breathing gushed out of Jahangil’s nose with a whiz.
“A-Anyway— we have to increase the number of people who know that the other races aren’t inferior at all compared to the humans. That will be an attack against the Holy Faith’s foundation. While pretending to be kind, I will try to transform the prisoners into a vanguard to be send in against the Holy Faith.”
Souma smiled sweetly.
“See, I’m vicious, am I not?”
At that everybody signaled their approval to Souma’s plans while smiling and saying “That’s a nice viciousness.”
However, even Souma certainly didn’t expect for that plan to restrain the farmers’ uprising.
And the village chief of the pioneer village, which had planned a rebellion without knowing about all that, was greatly troubled.
He’s clearly disappointed by the reaction of the prisoners whom he believed to definitely sympathize with their cause. They did say that they would help out if push comes to shove, but that’s very likely no more than lip service. He could grasp from their attitude and tone that they were obviously against rebelling.
Moreover, that’s not the case just in this village.
According to the village’s youths, who he made go around the other pioneer villages to notify them in a hurry, the prisoners, who were invited by the other pioneer villages, apparently didn’t react overly favorably either. Among them were even some who clearly stated that they wouldn’t be able to cooperate with starting a rebellion.
The village chief returned to the village while feeling depressed, but he noticed that the village’s state was odd. Recently the men had been frenzied with the rebellion close at hand, and the women and children had gloomy expressions out of anxiety, but for some reason it seems as if all the villagers have become restless.
At that moment, the scary-faced man, who brought up the uprising against the feudal lord at the very beginning, turned up with a smile.
“Village Chief, some time ago a person said to be the feudal lord’s messenger has arrived.”
Even though it’s just after we harvested the wheat, it looks like they have already come to talk about the taxes. The village chief sighed gloomily and said,
“Then we’ve got to hide the wheat quickly before His Lordship becomes naggy. Also, have the young girls go to the nearby forest for a while.”
Once he believed that the regular tax collectors had come around, the village chief became heavy-hearted. No only did they steal all the grain from the village as tax every year, the young soldiers always make moves on the village’s young women.
“That is, Village Chief, it looks like it ain’t the normal tax collectors.”
“What? So how are they going to transport the tax then?”
The man points at a hill located nearby.
“They built something called tax collection point on that hill, which is slightly away from here, and told us to bring the wheat to that place. It seems that all villages around here are going to go there to pay their taxes.”
Sparing male help to transport the wheat during this busy time is difficult, but it’s still much better than the regular tax collectors turning up.
“But, just how much should we bring?”
Until now the feudal lords and the government officials personally visited the villages and looked at the harvested amount. Because they decided how much they would collect as tax on the spot, it’s troublesome to simply be told to bring it over.
Once the man told the village chief about the amount of tax mentioned by the feudal lord’s messenger, the village chief was astonished.
“…Only that much?”
The mentioned tax is less than that of an average year. Certainly I heard that there will be a tax reduction if we relocate the village, but by no means did I expect it to go down so much.
“Bah, they’re going to come up with another reason to seize the tax anyway, right?”
However, having been thoroughly exploited by the feudal lord and the officials until now, the village chief jumped at shadows.
The man replies with a chuckle,
“Nah, they said to use it as we want in the village. They said that it’s the new Lordship’s 『Favor』. Thanks to that, everybody’s greatly overjoyed.”
Certainly if this much of the harvest remains at hand, no one will starve, and it will be possible to grandly celebrate the harvest festival, too. For a farm village with little entertainment the harvest festival is an important event.
“Maybe the new Lord is a decent man.”
Being told that in a grand manner, the village chief is stunned by the man’s state who can’t hold back his happiness.
“Good grief, you guys are sure simple-minded. But, I won’t be tricked!”
The village chief said stubbornly, but he doesn’t know.
The man called Doug, who told him to give up on the rebellion, happened to say something very similar to that in the past.
Slowly but steadily Souma’s policies took root in the population.