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Chapter 16 – Children Are Cute, Not In A Weird Way.
The refugees’ living quarters are quite close to the shared storehouse in the artisan district. It is necessary to pass through the magic field section, but the field itself is not that large, being a three-story structure like a multi-level parking lot. While looking across the brightly lit fields, we arrived at a messy refugee zone in less than ten minutes.
The materials used to house the refugees varied greatly. Sun-dried bricks, wooden planks, decaying timber like fallen trees, tall grasses, sturdy cloth… and anything else that might offer some protection from the wind and rain. However, the buildings are still generally shabby. It was evident that they were only barely adequate for sleeping.
“The production capacity of the elves is enough to feed them. Since there are no materials or tools, we can’t make any progress in building a proper house. We are trying to build walls and dwellings all at once through expansion, but it’s difficult to procure materials, so we’re not making much progress.”
The refugees’ gazes focused on Sylphy and me. The gazes on me are as harsh as ever. For Sylphy… I don’t know. Is it fear―no, it’s perhaps a look of awe?
“Where are we going?”
“To the coordinator of the group. I want to assess the situation first. I need to hear how the discussion with the elders went.”
We walked past the refugees who were looking at us from a distance until we were close to the expansion area. As we did so, I saw a rather large building made of dried bricks. As I approached the building, I could hear the laughter of children.
“A daycare center?”
“Something like that.”
The refugee children were gathered there. There were cat ears, dog ears, bunny ears, lizardmen, harpies, lamia, horned children, angelic children, demonic children, one-eyed… children of all sorts of sub-humans.
“Hmm, children are cute.”
“What is it? Is that your thing?”
“No, I mean, in general.”
Children who smile innocently are unconditionally adorable, aren’t they? Please don’t be so mean.
“We’ll be kidnapped!”
And when the children spotted me, they cursed at me and fled into the building at great speed. It’s so sad… What did I do?
“They don’t like you.”
“It’s not my fault! It’s the world’s fault!”
As I approached the building, shrieking like a failed adult. Then, perhaps hearing the children’s shouts, the refugees began to gather. A large, scar-faced man steps out of the crowd.
He was huge. He seems to have a problem with his right leg and seems to be limping a bit… He looks like a macho man with a lot of muscle. He has two big horns like a raging bull growing out of his head. Perhaps he’s a Minotaur type of beastman?
“I’ve told you many times, Danan, don’t call me that. I have no right to be called that.”
“No matter what you say, Your Highness is still Your Highness. I’m sure everyone can agree with me on that, seeing as how you’ve covered yourself in darkness for us.”
The big man kneels down in front of Sylphy and bows his head. Is this a form of vassal’s courtesy?
Even so, the expression “clothed in darkness” stimulates my middle-aged mind. Unlike other white-skinned elves, Sylphy’s skin is brown, which seems to have something to do with it.
“You’re such a stubborn bastard… Well, whatever. I’m here to talk to you about how to deal with Gizma. Gather the principals and prepare a place for us.”
The big man called Danan stood up, looked at me for a moment, and walked away. That piercing gaze is precisely what it describes, I suppose. I almost choked.
“Master, that guy scares me.”
“Danan had lost his wife to humans before escaping to the Black Forest, and he had lost two children in the Great Wilderness of Omit.”
“Oh… that’s heavy.”
I guess he must have a lot of resentment towards humans. Hmm, I wonder if I’ll be able to get by with just the backing of Sylphy? Isn’t it possible that I’ll be cut off from behind when the time comes to fight Gizma? In other words, I’m worried about Sylphy’s position as she has me in her arms.
“Is it okay to have me with you? You have a position.”
“Well, I don’t know. I’m sure it will be all right if I talk to them, but you’d better do the best you can too. But remember, I’m not going to abandon you. Just remember that.”
“All right. I won’t abandon you either.”
“Fufu. I’m glad to hear that.”
That’s a very natural and soft smile from Sylphy. Seeing Sylphy’s expression, the refugees around her opened their eyes wide. For example, the one-eyed woman opened her eyes so wide that it looked like her big eyes were going to fall out. Yeah, it may not seem like much to me, but to the people who have been watching her for a long time, it’s a big deal. I understand now.
“Well, everyone! We’ve got firewood and food for you! It may not be enough to fill everyone’s stomach… but there should be enough food to spread. Come and help us!”
Sylphy gives me a look. Yes, yes, yes.
I took out the bag of grain flour and the jar of salt without being asked. Aside from the grain flour bag, I don’t think I should put the jar on the ground.
“And this too.”
So I handed them to the nearby refugees one by one. I also gave baskets and bags of spiced vegetables to nearby refugees.
“Should I put the firewood out here, too?”
“Yes, do that. Gizma’s meat, too.”
“Not on the ground, Master.”
“That’s true. How about we set up a cooking table?”
“That’s a smart idea, Master.”
I have nails and wood in my inventory, so I can craft a table in no time. Then I mass-produced a large wooden table by quickly crafting it from the crafting menu.
“How about this?”
There were several designs for the table, but I decided to go with the one with a single piece of the wood top. This way, it can be used to knead the flour. The table was set up in a larger size.
“I wondered if it would be okay to put Gizma’s meat directly on the table. Won’t it get dirty with dust and sand?”
“That’s true… Should we build a wall to block the wind?”
“It’s too exaggerated… Why don’t we just mass-produce crates?”
“That’s brilliant. Go ahead.”
“Aye aye, ma’am.”
This time, I mass-produced crates that were about the size of an armful. The amount of wood per box is not much, but the number of boxes consumes a lot of wood. I have to go back to the logging site.
“How about this?”
“It’s good enough.”
I took out one of the crates and felt the inside to make sure there were no wood shavings. It looked fine. So, I put Gizma’s meat into the crate… What is this? Raw crab meat? Or is it shrimp meat? It’s white, a little bit translucent, and plump. Yes, the image is of big prawn meat. Sylphy also peeked at the meat in the crate from the side.
“I’m still not sure what part of the meat it is. But I’m pretty sure it’s Gizma meat.”
“As long as we can eat it, it’s good.”
“I guess so.”
I took out the box and filled it with Gizma’s meat. The number of boxes exceeded ten as I repeated the process of taking out boxes and filling them with Gizma meat. There were 13 boxes. It may not be a lot of food if we divide it among a little over three hundred people, but there’s plenty of grain flour, so I guess we’ll have to let them fill up on that.
“Then there’s firewood.”
I took out wood for firewood from my inventory and stacked it up. How much wood do we need? I should leave a little bit and keep more. If there is any leftover, it can be used for something else.
“How about this?”
“Hmm, I think that’s about right. What are you doing? Start cooking a meal. Make sure the kids are well-fed.”
The refugees, who had been stunned by Sylphy’s words, began to move in a hurry. They carried the table and the wooden box containing the Gizma meat, brought the stone to make a makeshift oven, added water to the grain flour from the bag by magic, and began to knead it on the cooking table. Pots and other cooking utensils seemed to have been brought from each house. A pot or a pan? It would be useful to have a big pot or a griddle for such occasions. I’ll make one when I can eventually afford it.
Danan returned with a group of people who seemed to be leading the refugees, but they seemed to be speechless at the scene that had changed so much in such a short time. Yes, it would have been a surprise if the soup kitchen had started just a few minutes ago.
“It’ll be a while before the food is ready. We’ll finish our conversation in the meantime.”
“I just wanted to do what I could. It has a little to do with what I’m about to tell you. We’ll talk in the corner over there. Kosuke, can you make a chair?”
“Oh, just in time. Wait a minute.”
It’s a good thing I have some wood left! It’ll be a light stool-like chair, but it’ll be better than sitting on the ground or standing up. I’ll make them quickly while I’m walking and set them up in a little open space where there will be a meeting place. There were five chairs, the same number as the number of people. I didn’t make any for myself. I’m in the position of Sylphy’s slave. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to sit there as if I’m equal to Sylphy, Danan, and the others.
Danan and the others seemed to be baffled by the sudden appearance of the chair.
“Kosuke, we need more chairs.”
“I’m Master’s loyal servant; I can’t sit in a chair.”
“Fumu… it’s an order, put the chair down and sit down.”
“Yes… well, if Master insists.”
I also made a stool for myself and sat down diagonally to the right of Sylphy. It’s my way of saying that I’m not going to step out of line. Danan and the others who were watching the exchange between Sylphy and me seemed to be confused. It’s as if they are not sure what’s going on here.
“…Well, that’s fine. If there’s nothing else, the reason why I’m calling for discussion today is because of Gizma. I’m sure the elders called you yesterday, right? I want to compare the information.”
“Yes, the elders of the elf village gave us the choice of fleeing deep into the forest or staying in the elf village to fight. And even if we do stay, we have been informed that the most we can get within the walls are our children.”
“Tsk, those raccoons. Does that mean they are not going to release the spirit stones then?”
Sylphy muttered viciously.
Indeed, if they can use the five spirit stones, which are capable of defeating an army of 100 people, they can easily repel the attack of Gizma. But the elders of the village have no intention of doing so.
It’s not that they are mean. They probably don’t have enough spirit stones in their stockpile. It was said earlier that it was rare to find that many gemstones in the shared storehouse. I don’t know how long the elf’s “I haven’t seen it in a while” will be, but I’m guessing that the stock of spirit stones has been tight for quite some time.
The elders are looking at an emergency situation, and it’s not just about Gizma’s attack. They’re probably worried about the invasion of the Holy Kingdom. The other side is a significant power that divides the continent in two. If they were to conquer the Black Forest, it’s hard to imagine how many troops they would send. No matter how much they prepare, they can never be too prepared.
Sylphy seems to be upset, but Danan and the others seem to be less so. Perhaps they are more convinced of this measure than I am since I don’t know much about the Holy Kingdom or the Merinard Kingdom. On the contrary, I’m more surprised that Sylphy is upset about it.
But I’m an observer now. As a slave, it’s out of the question for me to raise questions to my Master in a public place.
“Well, enough about that. What else did they say?”
“They said as long as we could build the wall in time…”
“I see. It’s the same story we heard… Kosuke is the key to the construction of the wall.”
Sylphy turned around and looked at me, and as if caught, Danan’s gaze also focused on me. I don’t feel the hostility that I felt earlier, but I do get nervous when people pay attention to me.
“Let me introduce you. This man is Kosuke. He is supposed to be my slave, but I have given him my chastity. Therefore, I am both his Master and his wife.”
Sylphy drops an oversized bomb without warning. Apparently, Sylphy likes to make an impact first to upset the other party and then use the confusion to her advantage.
“Calm down. Kosuke is not an ordinary human.”
“Certainly, he seems to have strange powers.”
“But he’s a human.”
“Yes, he is human. But he is not a human in this world, Reese. Kosuke is a rare visitor from another world.”
A silence fell over the place as Sylphy spoke, and the voices of the refugees serving food strangely echoed in my ears. And the way they looked at me turned into that of looking at something fishy. Yes, of course! That’s what I’d do if I were in their shoes!
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you this out of the blue. I couldn’t be sure until I had exchanged a lot of words, and I had seen his strange abilities.”
“With all due respect, Your Highness, I believe that this man is deceiving you.”
“He looks like just another ordinary human.”
“He has no magic power.”
“He doesn’t seem to have any strength either.”
You can say what you want, but you’ll be beaten to a pulp. That’s right, I think so too. It’s also true that I don’t have the strength! The least I can do is to make some weird moves!
“I understand that you guys don’t believe in Kosuke. But I want you to believe in me first. And I want you to clear up your distrust of him by exchanging words with him and seeing his power.”
Danan and the others seemed to be unable to say anything more as Sylphy said that with sincerity. However, if Sylphy is going to say this much, then perhaps there is something to be said for the way she looks at me, which seems to include not only suspicion but also interest.
“The first thing you should do is introduce yourselves to each other. Kosuke.”
“Yeah, where to?”
“All of them.”
Sylphy said, looking at me straight in the eye.
To be honest, I don’t mind. However, if I don’t go along with Sylphy’s words here, it means that I didn’t trust Sylphy’s words when she said she would protect me by my side.
I’m not too fond of it, but I don’t think I can betray her.
“…I’ll introduce myself again. I’m Kosuke. Believe it or not, I’m not from this world. Just a few days ago, I found myself thrown into the border between the wilderness and the forest. After that, I went into the forest to live and was picked up by Master. It’s hard to explain my powers in a few words, but… the main thing is that I can make a lot of different things in a short amount of time as long as I have the materials. Besides, I can carry large amounts of supplies with me, and I can move in unusual ways. However, I’m a man who has lived in a world where killing each other is out of the question. I think my direct strength is below average. That’s all…”
The gaze directed at me is still highly suspicious.
“Sylphy saved my life, and I owe her for protecting me. I’d like to repay that debt. I’m going to do whatever I can to help her. That’s all I can say.”
If I say too many words, it will sound like a lie. I think this is just about the limit. Now, how about their reaction?