Chapter 110: Right or Wrong Direction
As incredible as it may seem, the swindlers did not steal anything from the rich and strong. Swindlers were often on the side of the rich people. Sometimes they accumulated good wealth that made them rich themselves. Of course, they wouldn’t take advantage of people like them. And if they wanted to deceive, they would be prepared accordingly.
So, rather, for those swindlers, their real “customers” were the poor people who did not know if they would eat today, much less tomorrow.
Usually, these swindlers would try to reach out these poor people gently, and whisper sweet temptations on their afflicted ears. The swindlers’ words were like heavenly “help”, since the poor would even kiss the devil’s hand in order to survive.
This allowed the swindlers to do as they pleased. They forced the poor to give off all their possessions to them, or even rob all of them such as tools or even property. These swindlers were merciless people who robbed others, and shook the victims’ hands a sweet goodbye as if nothing ever happened.
Therefore, it was necessary to think carefully before hearing an external voice. Poor people were weaker at heart because of the hurdles they lived through every single day. Their vulnerability made them an easy target. Therefore, they had to keep a cool mind in order to discern whether the external voice or the external hand approached them with good or bad intentions.
I, myself, had a good understanding of such things.
The people in the backstreets, who were born and raised in the slums, were often mistaken for being the big swindlers who deceived people and stole their properties. Their weakness and inferior status made them easy targets of mockery and prejudice.
Because this reality was a repeating process, those who lived in the slums never believed in other people sincerely. They were not foolish. In the backstreets, everyone lived that way. I once believed that was the only way to live.
Well, that was when I lived in the backstreets… I was at a different place now. Yes, true. But, the horrible truth behind the poor people’s lives did not dissipate at all. So, was the power of the Heraldic Order strong or weak? Which one would it be?
「…Our city-state of Belfein. Like the walled city of Garoua Maria, I want to keep Belfein in the patronage of the Heraldic Order…」
Words were spilled at the round table, which I hardly understood the whole conversation. Why was I at the round table in the first place? This was such a bothersome place. Why did I have to listen to what others had to say?
I was sure that these people would add more unnecessary things to this never-ending conversation. In the end, I would be the one to have remained silent, but dragged on with their trivial matters.
At the end of the round table, I was staring at the messenger who spoke for a long time from my seat. I kept chewing a tobacco with my teeth.
The messenger from Belfein stepped on the soil of Garoua Maria just when I was unable to withstand the cold air that swirled in the meeting room.
Without the messenger suddenly appearing in the meeting room, my left arm would have been broken already. By the hands of no one else but Caria. In that sense, this messenger was undoubtedly a messenger of salvation.
The authority who sent the messenger was the city-state of Belfein. Like Garoua Maria, Belfein was one of the autonomous areas that maintained independence as a city unit. Belfein was a powerful city-state, and neighbor of Garoua Maria.
Belfein was certainly the closest city to Garoua Maria; therefore, it had a thriving trade with Garoua Maria. People say that Belfein made great progress because of Garoua Maria, which had a strong characteristic as a trade city.
Summing up, Garoua Maria played the role of trade for the surrounding city-states, while Belfein played the role of military power, so to speak, as the function of a mercenary city.
Undoubtedly, in terms of military power, Belfein must be by far the greatest city-state in all autonomous areas.
That was what people were saying about Belfein. Therefore, it was important for us that they joined hands with the Heraldic Order and come under its patronage. However, everybody in Garoua Maria thought that this would be the most difficult task to accomplish. Contrary to everybody’s expectations, Belfein made the first step to a good diplomacy. So the main question came to everybody’s minds. Why did Belfein “surrendered” so easily like that? This diplomacy sounded excessively easy.
Ah, what a complicated matter. I had nothing to do with this meeting. With heavy eyelids, I endured the whole conversation of the messenger that arrived in the meeting room, as I fed myself on the scent of my chewing tobacco.
Everything about this meeting took a lot of time.
After the messenger left the meeting room, another strange silence engulfed the area. Of course, this silence wasn’t awkward or emotionally stagnant. Actually, no one was sure what to say, and their lips were stiff.
Even if something came to the corner of my brain, I wondered if I should say it or not. I felt hesitant given the delicate situation.
While everyone was silent, their gaze naturally pointed toward Matia’s parchment.
「…Indeed, there is no abnormality in the official document issued by the city-state. Belfein’s magical mark is also engraved in the parchment.」
Unable to withstand the gaze and the long-lasting silence, Matia finally uttered those words. Her words stirred up the whirlpool of everyone’s thoughts.
The magical seals verified the authenticity of official documents issued by city-states. The wax seal was a certificate used by the upper class families, while the magical seal was a certificate used in formal exchanges between nations.
Each nation had its own seal with a particular design, and each nation validated its text with the magical seal. This process was obligatory and undeniable. Whether the content was exorbitant or far from expectations, the nation had to fulfill its contract by using the magic mark of its own country.
If not, the nation would lose its credibility all at once. If that happened, commerce between nations would no longer be possible, and merchants would only be able to sell goods in exchange for physical gold.
In other words, stamping an official document with a magical seal was equivalent to a nation throwing its credibility down to the ground.
That said document was present here and now. As the Saint woman said, there was no mistake in the design and magic power of Belfein’s magical seal. Oh gosh.
To be honest, even the agenda of this meeting was too hard to swallow. And now this. Anyone who was given a letter, which could be taken as a devil’s message or a god’s message, would certainly fall into confusion.
I glanced at the black hair that swayed at the edge of my eyes. Filaret had her lips slightly sharpened.
I recalled that tough situations happened occasionally during my previous life. Especially during my days with the Hero’s Party. There were times when everyone pressed their lips and remained silent to ponder about what they should do in the future.
However, in my case, I understood clearly that my opinion was not that important, whatever it might be. In fact, I also remained silent during those situations so that I would not step on the snake’s tail.
In any case, the genius Filaret was the one who always worked her head the most at such times. She had a multifaceted knowledge and could calmly express accurate opinions. Because of her talent, she performed fairly better than ordinary people did.
Therefore, I did not know what to expect this time, and my gaze went naturally to Filaret. I did it unconsciously, which mean that my turning face told me that my old habits were still alive.
Filaret tilted her neck. Her black eyes blinked as I looked at her, and then, she smiled mysteriously.
“Hey, what did you decide upon tilting your neck?”
I didn’t understand her intention at all. I professed that question in a whisper manner while waiting for her response. I was curious to hear her opinion on this matter, in order to provide a feasible answer.
After a moment, Filaret rounded her eyes and moved her lips with an expression that said it all.
「I don’t care about what everyone thinks. Either option is okay with me, as long as Lugis choses it. I will follow Lugis wherever he may go.」
No, wrong. That was not the answer I expected to hear.
Of course, she had her freedom to decide whatever she wanted. But, her words crucified me. I was not expecting this at all. Where was the old Filaret I knew of?
I thought she would give her own opinion on this current situation. I waited for her usual guidance and insight. I did not expect such words from a person like her that professed strong wisdom. What on earth happened just now?
Perhaps she read my suspicious and confusing expression. Filaret continued to speak with rosy cheeks as if she felt embarrassed somewhere.
「Because you won’t listen to me anyway. Even if I say, “don’t go to that dangerous place”, you will behave like a small child who runs without thinking of the consequences ahead.」
I see. Her statement was indeed irrefutable. Involuntarily, I strongly pressed the chewing tobacco against my teeth.
Well, I couldn’t say that I never committed anything dangerous until now, or that I took all possible precautions beforehand. Actually, I almost fell inside the “devil’s mouth” many times since I came to this past timeline.
She was, in fact, not wrong. But, I had no choice.
If an ordinary person like me wanted to reach heroes such as Filaret with my hands, then I had no other choice but to make reckless friends, face the danger, and try to move forward.
Besides. If I tried to take care of my own life, avoid everything and live through it, then I would end up without getting anything like I used to be during the Journey of Salvation, where I was nobody, just a mere rat. It would be horrendous. I didn’t want to cross that path again.
I felt like something scary pierced my own heart. I swallowed my spit without realizing it.
Therefore, Filaret’s words were not that wrong. Actually, she described me accurately. However, I felt it unbearable, and I lowered my eyes down.
Upon seeing my defeated gesture, Filaret opened her lips with a smile and sighed softly.
「You know, Lugis. It doesn’t make sense to me to say what is right and what is wrong. If you say so, then your answer will be my right choice…Ahh, but, you see…」
“…I still want you to explain to me who you are and what you are.”
Filaret finished her words with a whisper in my ear. That strange bewitching voice and the stagnation of invisible emotions made me lose my own voice.
I see. So what was the right answer for this case? Did that task just fell on my shoulders? I was trying to figure out in the corner of my brain what could be right or wrong.
EN: Quite enjoyed Filaret’s exposition here.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!