AN: Posting this before I go for dental surgery.
We went outside the ramparts surrounding the capital Parnam. The refugees’ camp was on the plains about a block’s distance away. Part of it was rough, with tents and shacks all over the place, but there were also parts where they planted something like fields. There were approximately 800 1 refugees living here. They gathered here from all sorts of kinds and races, there were humans, elves, beastkin, and also dwarves, reflecting how many countries perished and how many people were chased out by the Demon King Territory.
They lived halfway-primitive lives here, pitching camps and making up for what the resources offered to them by the Kingdom was lacking by hunting and gathering. Normally, they would’ve needed permission from the country to be able to hunt and gather, but the previous king Alberto adopted a noninterference policy with regards to this. I also continued this policy since taking up the throne. I had many more problems than the refugee issue, so I was left with no choice but to leave them alone with just the bare minimum of support.
It wasn’t a proper way of living, but it was still passable, thanks to the support they had. In this continent, a harsh environment awaits the refugees. Only somewhat strong countries with a bit of national power to spare, like us and the Empire, were able to leave the refugees to their devices. Countries bordering the Demon King Territory forcibly enlisted refugees to their militaries, sending them off to the front lines, while other countries worked them like slaves, sending them to the mines under the name of asylum.
The fact that refugees even flowed to our country, a good distance away from the Demon King Territory, shows how much the refugees lacked a safe place to be.
We followed behind the young man the Mystic Wolf Tribe Elder dispatched to lead the way, and walked into the refugee camps. The scenery was of what we saw to be slums earlier. From the looks of the people, it was clear how bad the health situation is. Tattered clothes, dust-caked bodies. … still, none of the people had dead looks in their eyes. All of them had a lively glint to them.
“It’s a dirty place, … but strangely, their eyes are strong”
Said Hilde, who had her nose and mouth covered with a cloth since we were ‘heading into the settlement’. The sight seemed to be grating for the clean freak. Liscia and the others also looked worried.
“They came all the way here from the far north with only the will to live. They’re probably tougher than any of us here”
People who had been stricken with an inescapable misfortune like war or natural disaster, but were still able to pick themselves up had a peculiar strength to them. Of course, this strength … has its dangers. They had the group spirit to weather the disaster, but on the other hand, this collective consciousness becomes too strong and individuality too weak. If a leader with strange ideas appeared among them, he could move the entire group together in that direction. I wanted to keep these people away from the likes of the Lunarians.
While I was deep in thought, Liscia came and asked.
“By the way So … Kazuya. You mentioned ‘support’, what did you do?”
She was about to call me Soma, but considering the time and place, I asked her to avoid calling me by name (surname, actually, but well …)
“It’s not much, necessities like food and firewood, and I also had the adventurers’ guild made quests to defend the place”
“The food I get, but why the adventurers’ protection?”
“They’re not the country’s citizens, and yet the countries which should’ve been backing them are no more. If for instance, one of our citizens abroad were to be murdered without cause, and the perpetrator were not punished, as the King I would lodge a complaint and depending on the situation, impose sanctions on the country, and vice versa. In other words, it becomes an international incident. The awareness of it becoming an international incident then becomes a deterrent to our citizens becoming on the receiving end of crime abroad. However …”
I looked over the people living in the camp.
“There is no such deterrent for those who had lost their countries, and it’s possible that somebody would start to think that it’s okay to do whatever they want since ‘it won’t become an international incident’. It doesn’t change the fact that they could be judged by the country’s laws even though it wasn’t an international incident, but it’s still one less mental hurdle between them and committing a crime. That was why I wanted them to become citizens as soon as possible, see …”
Then I could treat them as citizens and shelter them properly, though I clearly understand that it’s not that simple. Right that moment
Suddenly, screams were heard from within the settlement.
At the same time, I heard the sound of metal striking against metal. Liscia furrowed her brows.
“Looks like there’s a fight. Several people involved”
With a word from me, everyone ran towards the noise.
◇ ◇ ◇
At the center of the commotion, there were a party of men and women adventurers together with several of this village’s people, fighting against over ten mercenary looking men. The adventurers comprised of one young swordsman, an unarmed-fighting uncle, a dagger-wielding female thief, and a young magician girl. … lots of familiar faces here, huh.
“What is all this ruckus!”
Owen asked a man who was trembling nearby.
“T, those men suddenly appeared and tried to take away the children! Then they cut down the adults who tried to stop them! The adventurers came in after hearing all the noise and they’ve been fighting since!” shouted the trembling man.
They cut down the adults? I looked around and saw several men, bleeding from all over their bodies, being tended to by a male priest. I hurried and gave out orders.
“Carla, Owen, assist the adventurers”
“By your will!”
“Hilde, you go and help that priest. Liscia, you’re on alert”
“…… dear me, can’t be helped now can it?”
“Ugh … alright”
Carla and Owen rushed out without a moment’s delay, Hilde went towards the injured. I was going to prepare to use the doll just in case, but then I realized, I didn’t bring it today. I left it behind because I thought it was only going to be a burden since we weren’t going outside the castle gates. I took out the semi-decorative sword at my waist and readied myself.
“… If it comes to a fight, can you do it?” asked Liscia
“I don’t know. Owen’s been training me recently, but he said I was still at the level of a greenhorn growing his first hairs”
“Well that’s not reassuring. It doesn’t look like they’re relying solely on numbers, but a greenhorn isn’t really at their level yet. Hide behind me if it comes to it”
“…… I suppose so, pitiful as it is”
I don’t like it that I’m weak, but getting out there is only going to be a burden. I can’t exactly let myself get wounded, being who I am. Or so I thought …
“Wha, Kazuya!? What are you doing! We were just talking about it now!”
I heard Liscia yelling behind me, but I didn’t stop. I looked straight forward and saw the female thief unluckily tripping on a stray stick and fell. Then one of the bandits with a mohawk hair swooped in to attack her. In mid-run, I picked up a piece of scrap board and yelled.
“GET DOWN JUNO2]!”
I then threw the board at the man like a frisbee. The thief lowered her head at my word, and at the same time, the flying board was cut apart by the mohawk’s sword. It happened in an instant, though, so the board wasn’t cut clean in half, but was rather almost pulverized. Because of that the small wooden splinters got into mohawk’s eye.
“Ugh …… dammit!”
Mohawk stepped back while rubbing his eyes and swinging his sword wildly. I used the break to step in between the two. Mohawk finally got his eyesight back, and attacked.
Calm down! Just one move! One move, and Juno should be able to get her footing back! Remember what Owen taught! Remember your basic moves!
Mohawk raised his sword overhead. He’s going to crush me from above, but now that I’ve judged his intent, I put my left foot forward and a bit to the side and held my sword horizontally above my head with the tip tilted slightly towards the ground. The next moment …
There was a ringing metal sound as mohawk’s sword slipped over my own and was deflected towards my right hand side. I did it …… I frickin did it! I managed to deflect his sword, though my arm felt numb afterwards.
“” CONCENTRATE! “”
Mohawk had already regained his posture, but Liscia and the thief’s blades simultaneously pierced into him. Mohawk fell. Once Liscia confirmed that the enemy was no longer moving, she grabbed my arm and brought her head close to mine, glaring.
“What were you thinking, running off like that!?”
Seeing her eyes from up close, I could see tears gather.
“Ah, um … sorry …”
“Don’t sorry me! I thought my heart was going to stop. If anything happened to you … I …”
“Really, I’m sorry! Just that when I saw someone I know getting attacked, my body moved on its own …”
This time, the scruff of my neck was grabbed and I was turned around. The female thief was giving me one hell of a glare.
“You, you called me Juno just now, didn’t you? How the hell did you know my name?”
“Well … um …”
“Hold on So … Kazuya. Who’s this girl?”
Now Liscia was pouting and glaring at me again for a different reason. She was about to call me Soma but with the thief here, she switched to my undercover name ‘Kazuya’. Yep, nice save, Liscia.
… So please don’t glare at me like that. I’m unfortunately not the type who gets off on being glared at on two sides by cute girls like that.
Actually … how am I going to explain all this
In truth, this adventurer party was the same party that I often had Musashiboy-kun party with in order to test the operating limits of my dolls. That was how I knew their names: the female thief was Juno, the swordsman was Diese, the unarmed guy was Augas, the mage was Julia, and the priest was Febral. Because I knew these guys, I ran off right away the moment I thought Juno was in danger.
… HOWEVER, that said, I couldn’t possibly mention it here and now. We’re currently undercover, and besides the fact that we couldn’t let our true identities be known, I couln’t let Juno know that I was the guy inside of Musashiboy-kun (to be precise, I was outside of him though). Now I tried to figure out how I could shift the topic, but I couldn’t think of a good idea, so we stood there in silence.
“Oi, ya listening?”
Their stares were piercing me, but I pretended not to hear them. Both Liscia an Juno wanted answers, and I was refusing to answer. The test of patience continued for a while.
“What were you doing, Master!? Going out there on your own!!”
“Gah hah hah ha! I saw, you know. Looks like the sword skills I taught were of use”
Carla and Owen returned from eliminating everyone else. Taking the chance to break the mood, I slipped out from between Liscia and Juno, rushing towards the former two.
“Hold on. Kazuya!”
“Oi, explain yourself!”
Ignoring their complaints, I asked Carla and Owen.
“Good work, you two. … so, who are they?”
“According to what I managed to press out, they seem to be slave traders and their goons”
“Master nationalized the slave trade the other day, right? I hear the qualifications for them are strict. Because of that, slave traders from abroad and also some of our country’s own traders who didn’t make the cut left for other countries. These were one of those”
The way I was going to reduce slavery was by making them into government workers. I couldn’t remove the system itself just yet, but I changed the nature of it, meaning I changed the treatment of slaves from ‘things’ to ‘labor workers’. Because of that, I eliminated through inspections those slave traders that treat their slaves as things.
“But why are they attacking the refugees?”
“To fund their escape to another country, they were looking for high-selling women and children. They were thinking that because the refugees weren’t citizens, the authorities would not make a move against them”
“Like hell that’s going to happen!”
“E, even if you say that, what am I supposed to do”
Carla seemed uncomfortable, I calmed myself down.
“….. sorry for yelling there”
“It’s okay …”
“Carla, sorry but can you fly back to the castle? Tell Hakuya everything that happened here. That guy could probably do something about it, like putting out notices or something”
No sooner said than done, Carla spread the wings on her back and took to the skies, flying towards the castle. I accidentally saw her garter belt for a moment there, so I looked away. So please, Liscia, don’t glare at me like that. As soon as Carla flew away, Hilde came back.
“We finished treating the injured. The wounds are deep, but the priest acted quickly. Thanks to that their lives aren’t in danger. He already closed the wounds with light magic”
“I see … thank goodness …”
“But, what are you going to do? Looks like people are gathering here”
Looking around, I could hear noise. The refugees were beginning to gather. Since we’re here undercover, it wouldn’t be good to stand out here. I called to Liscia and Owen.
“Let’s leave the adventurers to hand these guys in. We should go meet the village head like we planned”
“Sheesh … you better explain everything afterwards”
We then hurried away from the place. Noticing that, Juno yelled
“Ah, hold it there! Wait!”
But we won’t wait! Bye, so lo~ng. Wait, she’s the thief here, right?
AN: Thank you for reading.
I often get questions asking, how strong is Soma in a fight right now? So I made him do something a little reckless. Because of Owen’s training, it’s roughly new recruit < Soma = common soldier, except because he had little real life fighting experience, he was just barely able to defend himself a few times fighting with a common soldier
Also, I thought up of something, so I put names to the side characters from "The Adventures of Musashiboy-kun". The martial artist wasn't in that chapter, but it goes that he joined the party afterwards.
Furthermore, I reduced the military numbers for the entire world by half, like Elfrieden's armies went from twenty thousand to ten thousand. I already amended the numbers, but please point out if I missed anything. (Changing the illustrations is a pain so I left them as-is)
Lastly, I started contributing at 7/4 so it's been a whole year. I would like to do something but haven't figured out what just yet.
Now then, do excuse me for rambling. — Dozeumaru