|Author: The Sole Survivor||Original Source: SFACG|
|Translator: CatatoPatch||English Source: Re:Library|
What I said probably sounded strange to someone used to the typical image of the slothful noble, filled with greed and cruelty. In all likelihood, Ansom couldn’t even comprehend the difficulties of the common folk, born with a silver spoon in his mouth as he was. But what I was trying to do was remind myself of my roots, that was all.
“Ansom, what do you think the prime duty of the nobility is?”
“To lead their subjects?”
“Strictly speaking, to protect them.”
As the last of the city walls left us, the scenery outside the window abruptly turned from brick and mortar to barren trees.
“To protect the commoners?” Ansom muttered to himself. From his furrowed brows, I could tell he was trying his best to understand the meaning behind my words.
“The masses are like sheep. And like sheep, a shepherd is needed to herd and protect them. That’s why we have kings and kingdoms. Humans are social creatures, incapable of living alone. Even with food and shelter, a man can live without others for long, else that solitude would swiftly turn to poison.”
I did not wait for him to comprehend my words; I knew his feudal upbringing wouldn’t change overnight just because of a few words from me.
“Progress has always been pushed by only the elite few, but without the masses as a support, these talented individuals would never have been born, not many at least…”
“But, Commander, such talent can only come from those of noble bloodline.”
“Is that so?” I calmly asked. “I’ve heard that a certain famous general -Cleoz, was it?- was born of common stock. A commoner, through and through, even tracing back eight generations, his ancestors are all commoners.”
“The General is an… exception.”
“You remember that bodyguard of Otto? The eight-star one.”
“…” Ansom nodded gravely. Because of certain misunderstandings, whenever he heard the man’s name, he always seemed to be on guard. Naturally, his surveillance efforts should avail him knowledge of who I was referring to as well.
“No response? I take it you know as well that his bodyguard is of common stock.”
The kingdom of Andassis only had five publicly known overlords; eight-stars only numbered in the numbers. The Overlord-tier was also known as the Saint-tier amongst the humans. Once a person entered that realm, they would have transcended mortal limits. Eight-stars were impressive in their own right as well. One in every ten thousand geniuses ever reached this lofty height. Most never saw beyond the threshold of a seven-star.
“I won’t deny that selectively breeding has its own merits, but I wish for you to know that even commoners can produce talents. Do you remember what I said about the devils and the undead? The Apocalypse will soon arrive… I know not when that will happen… but I wish to be as prepared as I can be. And if all else fails, I hope to at least preserve a sliver of humanity’s future.”
“I understand now, Commander.” By the end of my short little sermon, Ansom’s eyes were burning with a fierce determination. “I swear on my life to follow you to the ends of the realm!”
“The nobility exists to protect those beneath them. In exchange for their privileges, they have to bear the corresponding burdens as well. These privileges were earned with the hard work of their forebears, does it not stand that they should pass on this favor to those after as well? I cannot stand those who would squander their gifts, living only to bring misfortune to those around them…”
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Thanks to the snowfall, the carriage driver proceeded at a cautious pace. Even so, we arrived at the village after an hour of travel.
Hearing the ruckus of our carriage, a fifty to sixty year old man opened up his wooden door to have a look. Instantly, the cold winds blew into his house, causing the fire within to flicker precariously. Those around the fireplace were buffeted by a brief spell of coldness.
“Greetings, elder, I’ve come to these lands not too long ago seeking shelter, but now I’ve decided to return to my hometown…”
Ansom posed as one of the refugees fleeing to Kesek, his purpose here was to ask for a warm drink and momentary respite.
Without a second thought, the old man accepted his story, warmly inviting us into his home along with the driver. I hopped off the carriage as well, disguised behind a mask as I stepped into the old man’s home.
He had four family members: a couple, roughly thirty years of age, and a pair of children, one boy and one girl, both under ten years of age.
His home wasn’t particularly luxurious, but it seemed to be of a decent standard at least.
Based on that alone, one could say this old man was one of the fortunate few. At the very least, someone as frail as him hadn’t succumbed to the long flight.
Yet amidst his showing of austerity, there was one article of extravagance that stood out like a sore thumb. It was a portrait… Thank the heavens I was wearing a mask right now…
The name of the painting was the “Benevolence of the Goddess”. Naturally, this wasn’t the hand-painted masterpiece Otto gifted me, but these mass-printed versions still cost about a silver coin each. Just like the master copy, I was featured giving out bread to the refugees.
Apparently, these portraits had gotten to the point of being a necessity in every household. Perhaps with more guidance, this entire province could give birth to its own religion.
While I was busy surveying the old man’s home, Ansom had struck up a conversation with the old man.
“Food? We have enough, that’s for sure. Our generous lord not only gave us food, my son was even given a job… What a generous lord, never has this old man seen a better lord anywhere else…”
“Our house, you say? We built it ourselves, us and everyone in the village. More hands make for quick work, and all that.”
“Bandits? No one dares to commit a crime under the nose of our lord. We don’t even lock up anymore.”
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“Our lord is truly a goddess from the heavens… a true blessing that we came here…”
After ten minutes of chatting, Ansom had asked all I wanted of him, thus we left of our own accord. The old man wanted us to stay for dinner, but we declined his kind offer.
Now back on the carriage, we proceeded forth once more. My plan was to circle around the outskirts of the city at least once, no matter how many days that would take; I wanted to see for myself how the newly settled refugees were faring.
“Otto’s done well in his job.” I couldn’t help but exclaim as I sat in the heated carriage.
“On that point, I can agree. Sir Otto’s work has been flawless. However…”
“Are you still unsure about him?”
“Mhm, but at least I see no need to continue ‘surveilling’ him.”
“Colleagues should learn to get along.”
“… Yes…” Ansom nodded somewhat half-heartedly.
Three days passed, and I had finished touring over a dozen villages. While the results weren’t always as perfect as the previous, but every household I visited seemed to be well-equipped for the winter. In other words, there shouldn’t be any deaths due to starvation this winter.
Back at my manor, what awaited me was a mountain of paperwork. And a miffed-looking Redleaf.
The instant I opened the door, I was met with her immediate griping, “I need my movie or I’m going to die!”
Looking at her throwing a tantrum like a child, I smiled gently. “And here I thought you were going to ask where I went.”
“Hmph, why haven’t you come to visit me in the capital?”
“Because I was busy.” I shrugged my shoulders helplessly. “And rather than me visiting you in the capital, why can’t you come visit me instead? You seem the freer of the two of us.”
“I don’t care! I want a zombie movie now!”
“Fine, fine… I will screen it right away… I swear…”
While her little tantrum was endearing, when I thought about it, wasn’t she over a hundred years old now…
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As promised, I screened a movie of her liking. When that was done, I tried to ask her if she wanted another, but I was suddenly met with a pair of dead-serious eyes, with some hints of hesitation swirling in her beautiful eyes. A few seconds later, she finally broke the silence. “Nana, we elves have developed our own magitek armor.”
“And… that’s a good thing.”
“If this Apocalypse you speak of is true and won’t happen in the next few days… then we plan on launching a war soon… towards the humans…”
“Why?” I was taken aback by her sudden declaration. To my knowledge, the Nature Elves were a peace-loving race, with barely any record of having started a war on any other.
“Because of a certain incident not too long ago. A human army attacked one of our hamlets… In search of slaves, as they are wont to do. We managed to rescue the captured slaves thanks to the magitek armors, but a number of them couldn’t bear to live with the shame…”
They ended themselves, huh… They have always valued their chastity highly. Death must have seemed like an easier choice than living with such a humiliation.
“In the past we did not possess the strength, but now we do…”
Revenge, then… I guess those humans do deserve it…sigh…
Unable to stop her, I reminded her, “The common folk are innocent.”
“Mhm. As long as they do not resist.” She closed her eyes then, “None of us wished for this, but there is no avoiding this war now…”