After having finished giving milk powder to all the babies in the village (we left a can of milk powder and a baby bottle at each house after explaining how to use them), and having finished the monumental task of giving the sick villagers Lipo-D to drink, the two of us went back to the house for our next task.
But of course, the two of us were exhausted after doing so much without rest, we had a Lipo-D and sat down for a little rest.
“Ah, this medicine tastes good. A bit different than I expected”.
After receiving the Lipo-D from Kazura, Valletta held it in both hands with great care, and said that as she was drinking it a little bit at a time.
“Right? I like the taste, too, every da… No, I often drink it”.
Actually, he always took a Lipo-D to begin his activities each day, but since it would be weird if he was taking medicine every day, he changed what he was about to say.
“By the way, the food situation in the village looked bad, is it alright if I ask what happened?”
Kazura asked something that had been bothering him since he came back to the village, and Valletta’s expression clouded.
“There hadn’t been any rain recently and the water in the pond is almost gone because of the drought….”
“Ah, so the crops are damaged because of the drought…”
Kazura nodded, understanding what Valletta said, then she painfully continued talking.
“The direct cause is the dry weather, but in the past we would make do by going to the river a way off from here and drawing water from there, but because of the war that lasted until 4 years ago almost all the young people in the village had died…. So when we get a long drought like this we were shorthanded and couldn’t maintain the crops”.
“There was a war just recently?”
Valletta blankly looked at Kazura after his reply, but she immediately seemed like she understood something and started explaining to him about the war.
“Yes, for 6 years until 4 years ago, Balveil and our country, Arcadia were at war. We don’t know what happened to cause the war but we heard from one of Narson-sama’s retainers that the Balveilans are coming to attack soon. Because of that, the young men from our village were called upon to become soldiers but as the war dragged on, they soon became shorthanded and even recruited women, leaving just the elderly and the very young children behind.”
Having listened to what Valletta said, Kazura nodded with a hum.
Judging from her story, the war between Balveil and Arcadia was especially hard on the Arcadians, to the point of having to call upon the people who were young men and even women at the time.
The reason why he hadn’t seen Valletta’s mother ever since he came to the village is probably also because she had lost her life during the war.
“Because Balveil were also at war with other countries besides Arcadia, 4 years ago all these countries formed an alliance, and because of this alliance, the nations were able to cooperate and caused even the great country Balveil to be wearied. Then, Balveil proposed an 8-year white peace, which they all agreed to.” «TN: white peace – a ceasefire (i.e. nobody is declared winner nor loser), back before firearms existed»
“No matter the country, they will reach the limits of their power after a long war, huh”
In other words, the large number of victims of this war had caused a large shortage of labor, and it is now causing suffering for the Arcadians.
Because the young men who were at the core of the labor force were cut down in one stroke, food production declined, and it is possible that the dwindling population could cause further labor shortages, trapping them in a vicious cycle.
Other towns and cities besides this village were probably suffering under the same conditions.
“This year is the 4th year of the truce, so in 4 more years the truce will expire. If another war were declared after those 4 years, I may also be called in to become soldiers when it happens”
Kazura was at a loss for words at what she said.
Because a young woman like Valletta, who doesn’t seem like she’d be suited for battle, would be drafted and dragged out to the battlefields in 4 years’ time.
Seeing the silent Kazura, Valletta said “well then”, and stood up.
“Let’s get started on preparing the food. Thanks to Kazura-san’s medicine, my fatigue is now completely gone”
“Yeah, you’re right, let’s go”, answered Kazura to the smiling Valletta, and he also got up.
“There is a shed by the house, inside there is a cauldron we use to make food for festivals. If we use that we could make food for all the villagers. But since it’s so big we need a lot of firewood, we can’t use it unless we ask all the villagers to share some firewood.”
“I see…. then I’ll prepare the cauldron. Valetta-san, could you go round to the villagers and ask them to bring firewood because we’re going to be preparing food? Also, it would be great if you could get them to bring a bit of water along”
“All right, then. I think father is going to wake up soon so you can ask him about setting the cauldron or anything else.”
Then, Valletta showed Kazura where the shed was.
“Well, I’ll be going then. I’m sorry but please do the preparations.”
With that, she left the residence in a small run.
While watching the back of Valletta who was running away, Kazura murmured to himself, “War, huh? Where was I and what was I doing back then, I wonder?”
“Uwaa, this is big. If it’s with this I can make food for 100 people with some to spare.”
Kazura took the large bronze cauldron that looked about 1 meter in diameter out from the shed together with the village chief who woke up soon afterwards, and he let out a voice in admiration.
It was easily 50 cm deep, they could make 100 people’s worth of rice porridge with this.
“Yep, usually we make lots of of soup during festivals to share with the villagers using this cauldron. It was popular with the villagers because we used to add lots of meat from kahuku we hunted in the mountains and also lots of vegetables in.” «TN: kafuku»
“Ooh, meat soup, huh. If you made a lot then it must be really good.”
While thinking “Kahuku is probably some kind of deer. Wait, they use the word ‘soup’ here?”, Kazura nodded to the village chief.
“By the way, this ‘rice’ we’re going to make porridge with, just what kind of thing is it?”
“Umm, it’s a grain-type food that doesn’t really have flavor, but it’s full of nutrients. Normally you don’t make porridge out of it but boil it instead, but since there are a lot of sick people I thought it was better to make porridge.”
While Kazura gave his explanations to the village chief, the two of them made a base for the cauldron using stone stored inside the shed, put the cauldron on it, and put 30 kg of rice inside the cauldron.
He thought it was too much, but it’s better than it running out of afterwards.
Afterwards Kazura completed the preparations and asked the chief about things like the situation in the village. As he was doing so, villagers started coming one by one holding firewood and buckets of water.
Among the villagers there were also the people who Kazura gave Lipo-D to back before sunrise.
“Kazura-san, thanks for the medicine earlier. Thanks to you I can already go walking about like this.”
The villager who said that while grabbing Kazura’s hand had a really healthy complexion.
It seems that Lipo-D can show some considerable effects in this world.
That’s good then. I’m now making a cauldron full of porridge, so eat to your heart’s content for your health.”
With the help of the villagers who came along, he put the water in the cauldron and set up the firewood.
The villagers all bowed to Kazura in unison, while one of the mothers whose baby had been given powdered milk grabbed his hand with tears in her eyes.
While Kazura was being thanked by the villagers surrounding him like that, Valleta came back, and everyone continued preparing the porridge noisily.
“This is good! I’ve never had porridge this delicious!”
“It’s true, there’s a lot of salt put in it, and this dried plum thing is really good even though it’s sour!”
Because of the size of the cauldron it took 2 hours for the porridge to cook, and as it was done Kazura sent Valletta to eat as he served the porridge to the villagers.
As the porridge touched their mouths, all the villagers unanimously said “delicious!” in surprise and delight.
“(Now that I think about it, yesterday’s Arcadian bug soup had almost no flavor in it. These people seem to have no flavoring whatsoever.)”
In this world where mere salt is traded as a highly prized commodity, it was probably the taste of the only barely usable flavor ingredient.
He felt that he could understand the feelings of Valletta and the village chief who was eating the Arcadian bug while saying “delicious! delicious!”
“Hey hey nii-chan, why do you look so weird?”
As he was distributing the porridge to the villagers who were happily asking for seconds again and again while thinking about such matters, one 5~6 year old boy came by and pulled on Kazura’s clothes.
Having been asked that, Kazura started comparing his own clothes with that of the villagers.
Kazura was wearing a thin-striped white short-sleeved shirt and jeans, and a pair of slightly raised sneakers for shoes.
On the other hande, the villagers were wearing rough-seamed plain clothes top and bottom, and something like sandals made out of woven grass for their feet.
It was obvious that Kazura’s clothes were out of place.
“Umm, this is…”
“Kolz!!!” «TN: Korutsu»
While Kazura was at a loss as to how he would answer, a woman who looked like the boy’s mother came and took him in her arms in hot haste while bowing deeply, saying “I’m truly sorry!”, and ran off before Kazura could reply.
As he thought “what the hell was that” while watching the back of the woman who ran away, Kazura noticed the eyes of the villagers were all focused on him.
The hustle and bustle of just a few moments ago had turned to silence, and the villagers were for some reason wearing anxious expressions.
“Ka, Kazura-san, umm….”
“Uhh, what’s the matter everyone? Is there something on my face?”, Kazura replied to the panicked Valletta, then he felt the tense silence surrounding him unravel.
“Ah, no! It was nothing! Um, I was wondering if I could get seconds!”
“Ah, yeah, alright”
Even while serving porridge to Valletta, he could hear the villagers saying “phew” or “he didn’t notice” from far away, but he was hesitant to ask “about what?” to the obviously relieved Valletta and the villagers so he just let it pass.
“Right right, we have 7 bags of rice left, so after everyone finished eating I’ll teach everyone how to make porridge and share the dried plums and salt with everyone. I’ll be getting more rice and salt from my country so you don’t have to worry about food anymore.”
“Probably one can of plums per house will be alright”, Kazura thought, and as he was doing so, Valletta whispered at him “…. thank you very much Greiciore-sama” in a low voice so that he didn’t hear. «TN: Gureishiooru»