Chapter 44: The Poor People’s cave
It’s been a while since me and Caria got separated. In fact, I moved my residence to the Poor People’s cave.
The reasons why I chose the Poor People’s cave as my home were the following. First, it was the best place to get more information about Garoua Maria since it was a gossip area where people sold information to one another. Second, it was the den of the excommunicated Heraldic people. Therefore, I thought it would be wiser for me to get closer to them and to watch their movements.
Moreover, the Heraldic people were trying to gain allies on the Poor People’s cave in order to increase their numbers for the rebellion to overtake Garoua Maria.
Nevertheless, that was something that would be difficult to accomplish. Naturally. To be honest, humans, who have been living on the depths of poverty for too long, won’t have any intention of trying to achieve that bliss in life. Of course, they desired for a better life for countless of times before. But, a “better life” never happened to these poor people. It was a distant dream. That’s why they didn’t even dare to think of a better future, or seek better solutions.
I knew that too well. I shared those feelings. Yeah, that reality. I wouldn’t even try to have high hopes that could be crushed at any minute.
That’s why Largud Ann agreed that I should live here for the meantime. Although the possibility of building a cooperative connection with them was low, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to create a stable relationship with these poor people. To make some connections at the start could built to something more meaningful. That’s why the Heraldic people and I moved to the Poor People’s cave since it was reasonably convenient.
Of course, convenient for me and for the Heraldic people. But not necessarily for other people.
Actually, this cooperation could be of particular beneficial for me and for my comrades.
「Lugis bro…How is your “sister”? 」
「Actually, she is sleeping now even though the sun is still up. She can’t sleep at night because of the noise. It’s unavoidable.」
A resident of an old house in the Poor People’s cave spoke with me. This person was tall and robust he was easily twice my size. The tattered floor almost collapsed every time this person stepped on it. It was about to collapse even now.
Yeah, that’s right. This was the best location I could choose from other old houses. But, even though it was the best, it was still rather bad when compared to a decent accommodation. Insects came back and forth, as they pleased. The bed was old and hard. And the walls were so thin that I could hear the prostitute’s glamourous voice at night. That was the reason why she couldn’t sleep at night and had to sleep during the day.
By the way, “she” or the “sister” that the robust man mentioned earlier was, in fact, Filaret La Volgograd. I didn’t expect her to move from her prestigious school to the Poor People’s cave. She probably didn’t expect these conditions. That’s why the drastic changes in her environment took a severe toll on her. Everything was too unbearable for a girl like her.
It’s been a while since I’ve moved here. But, I still felt sleepy during the day. I guess Filaret wasn’t the only one to suffer, after all.
「You know, this house is a bit unfortunate. It seems that the Goddess of Luck has really left this place.」
「Oh no, Lugis bro. This isn’t the worst. 」
This robust man spoke in a relaxing tone. His smile was gentler than those of the other residents in the Poor People’s cave. This was due to his own upbringing. In a sense, despite living with these conditions, he actually felt fortunate to have a place that he could at least call his home.
Except for him, everyone else who lived in the Poor People’s cave were people who had lost the light in their eyes. These people were “attacked” by hunger and poverty. Everyone here was desperate to live another day.
After asking the price, I brought a bottle of ale for us. The robust man opened his mouth and showed me a wide smile on his face. He grabbed the bottle and drank happily from it.
Sometimes, I could afford this much. At least, something to give to these people in need. Ah, peaceful. It’s really peaceful. I could afford to have this peace because I received some money from the Heraldic people through Largud Ann.
I could hear a slight scream coming from the upstairs’ bedroom and the sound of someone trampling the floor.
Apparently, she finally woke up. This happened every time. The robust man sighed profusely, and then, I heard Filaret’s voice from the distance.
「Lugis…If you’re awake, then why didn’t you wake me up as well? 」
Filaret came rushing from the first floor in a lightly prepared dress. I just shook my head while I spoke in a grumpy voice.
「The princess who woke up now. It’s not my duty to wake you up, you know. 」
How many times did I answer to this question? I felt like I’ve been repeating these words for a while now. This woman named Filaret woke up just now and looked awfully mad at me. I didn’t realize it before, but there was some essence to her behavior that reminded me of my previous timeline with her future self.
She quickly arranged her black hair on the spot after waking up with unkempt hair. However, she still had her old habit of biting her lips when she felt some dissatisfaction in her heart. Filaret sat on a nearby chair and began to speak the following words.
「How dare you say something like that! It won’t hurt if you waited for me in the morning, won’t it!? Just wait until I’ve got up! Or you make me feel as if I’m someone unwanted here!」
Filaret gave me an earful while she chew some bread in the late morning. She even complained about the bread because it was too hard to swallow.
How ungrateful. Bread was considered a luxury item on this sort of place.
Without Largud Ann’s help, Filaret wouldn’t be able to live here in the first place. She complained about the bed and the noise, but it seemed that her eating habits were another source of her annoying persona. She got to eat a piece of bread that wasn’t available for the people that lived in this poverty-stricken area.
「You see, I’d rather not wake you up. How could I wake a sleeping beauty next to me? I felt that I would be punished by the devil if I were to do that cruel thing to you.」
I shook my shoulders while I put some of the chewing tobacco on my mouth.
I wasn’t sure if Filaret was dissatisfied with my answer or not. She just put a piece of bread onto her mouth and ate silently.
Just by looking at her, I noticed that she ate her food slowly while putting little pieces in her mouth. She was like those small ruminant animals that chew little by little. Amidst the silence, it was even a funnier scene to witness. I never paid much attention to this detail before, as I didn’t remember much about socializing during meals.
「Still…bro. I’ve never seen a foreigner before. Really, this is my first time meeting someone like her.」
The robust man responded confusingly as he wrinkled his eyebrows. Even his big nose quivered. Apparently, he was a man that had never seen much of the outside world.
「Well, the eastern area from here is famous for the international commerce between our people and the Bolvato people. It’s a place where it’s bustling with people from both places. Naturally, some of them married with each other and blood was mixed between the two populations. That’s why she looks like a foreigner to you. But, she’s a human like us. It would be different if you were speaking about the elves that lived in the forest, since they’re entirely different species.」
I tried to explain to the robust man about Filaret’s different looks. I spoke to him while I chew my chewing tobacco while scratching my chin.
「Eh. Lugis, did you meet an elf before? 」
Filaret was intrigued by what I said at the end of my explanation. Her words were met with utmost interest. The robust man looked intrigued as well. Before long, he opened his thick lips and said the following words.
「Elves….so, they really live in the depths of the forest. I heard that they kidnap the lost travelers in the woods. That’s scary.」
Of course not. That was a silly rumor.
Well, I knew that humans had some sort of prejudice against elves in general. Still, most of the time it was just plain misunderstandings. The robust man’s words were extreme but reflected the views of many other people.
Elves. People who lived in the forest. They were beings who connected their spirits with nature.
Although their names varied between countries, they had basically no interaction with human beings on an individual basis. As a consequence of their mysterious feature, elves were subjected to various prejudices and misunderstandings.
In fact, until I saw one with my own eyes, I thought that the basic ecology of the elves were that they were green-skinned and gathered on trees.
They were different. How should I describe it? Let’s see. Unlike humans who were created by God, they were said to have been made directly by the hands of the spirits. They were, in fact, beautiful beings.
It wasn’t something I wanted to remember, but yes, so was that Princess who accompanied me on the journey of salvation. Her beauty was really out of this world. She couldn’t be compared with a regular human being. She astounded me the moment I looked at her. And that phenomenon would happen with other people that meet her as well. Even a priest would thank God for meeting face to face with the culmination of beauty.
Even though countless of elves’ tribes ended up perishing, people didn’t believe how beautiful they were because of those senseless rumors about their kind. But, that was how it worked. People would only believe in things that they could lay their eyes upon. That was how things were since the beginning of time.
「Yeah, that’s right…Well, to be honest, I just got a glimpse of one in the past. They’re not that evil. Don’t make wild assumptions until you see one for real…Anyways. Wood, let’s make a bet. Wine or cheese?」
Yes, it was true when it comes to beauty. But, I didn’t want to talk about her personality. It’s just that they, just like us, were full of prejudice against human beings. They were beings that had all kinds of discrimination in their society as well.
And above all, the elves’ values were far different from us. No wonder that humans and elves couldn’t get along well. Even so, that damn hero was the only one that did get along with the Princess.
Filaret had a clouded face when she heard my words. It seemed that I described them differently than what she imagined them to be. The robust man named Wood, nodded to the choice he had to make. Making bets like this wouldn’t be interesting if someone didn’t have doubts about it.
I wondered if Filaret finished eating her bread. I wanted to clear the table to continue the betting with Woods. At that time, a piercing sound from a long distance hit my earlobes.
I heard the sound of a trumpet. It was a sound that resonated in my ears, though I must confess that it sounded as if it were broken somewhere. I remembered this sound very well. This instrument was used by Wood’s little sister Sereal to warn other people about intruders.
「Oh boy, this must be my unlucky day. God must be against us for real. 」
I got four advances when I got the cards. While Wood got five advances. He shook his knives on his waist while he won the betting game for wine and cheese.
「Lu…Lugis bro… 」
Although Wood was the winner of this bet, his face looked somewhat blue as if he were frightened by something. His limbs quivered. Despite being a large and robust man, this posture of fear didn’t match his giant looks. I knew what this trumpet sound meant for us.
However, his demeanor changed between fear and a sense of responsibility as he stood from his chair too quickly. Maybe it was only my impression, but it looked like he had cramps on his knees while he tried to stand up properly. His big nose shook and his breath became rough.
「Don’t worry, Wood. The trumpet only warns us about the entrance of few guards in the Poor People’s cave. They don’t inspect all of the houses here. Only two or three people are arrested for their suspicious behaviors.」
I spoke to Wood with a slight smile on my face. Wood’s eye complexion showed that my words were a bit reassuring for him. Still, I felt apologetic to him for staying on his house. And thus putting him in danger. I sighed deeply with my chest at this situation.
I told Filaret to remain inside and to continue eating her breakfast. My words broke the mood and she became infuriated at me.
「Why? I don’t want to. That’s not what you promised me. You said that I was your accomplice and that you hoped I’d take your hand. So, what is this all about?」
She spoke in a serious manner to me. She felt that I behaved unfairly to her even though the situation was not suitable for such an argument. Still, Filaret protested to me with great confidence.
My rough breath was different from Wood’s heavy breath. I gave Filaret a response after her wrath fell upon me.
「Your hair stands out too much. There’s a high probability that one of the guards have seen you before.」
That’s right. Even though this state-city was an active center trade, Filaret’s black hair and her same colored eyes were too noticeable.
There was a chance that the guards from Garoua Maria could notice Filaret’s appearance and report it to higher authorities. It would be risky to let her go as well.
Besides, there were some reports in the city that some thugs kidnapped her even though she came with me of her own volition. If these guards were to see her here, it could cause unnecessary troubles.
We’re talking about Filaret after all. She would probably understand my reasoning. Of course, she would. She had a brilliant mind; at least, her future self was brilliant. Or so I thought before she began to twist her own words.
「…In other words, Lugis. You don’t need me anymore? Maybe I should go home instead. But, before that, I could stop by the guard station first.」
Filaret looked directly at my eyes with a sarcastic smile on her face.
Large. Yes, a large sigh was about to explode from my throat. But, I managed to swallow it by force.
Those words. They sounded like a threat didn’t they? This Filaret. I never knew that she would be like this in her past self. A brilliant person that started to intimidate other people. How ironic.
「…Go get your hood. Just hide your appearance and control your breath so that you won’t stand out among us.」
After placing half of the bread on the plate, Filaret went upstairs to grab her hood. I looked at her back while she went upstairs in a hurry, and I narrowed my eyes.
Wood stared at me with an anxious and worried look on his face. That large sigh finally erupted from my throat after I couldn’t hold it anymore.
Yeah I don’t see this going too well…
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