Chapter 21 Former Villager’s Monologue Part One
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
My name is Madison, originally from a cold-weather village in the northern part of the Empire.
Most of the men in my village made their living by hunting animals, but I was unable to hunt because of a leg injury I sustained when I was a child, and I managed to survive while the men were out of the village, receiving a small share of the harvest from the hunting by helping with the hard work in the village.
I had a daughter, Mira, and I gave her all the love I could to substitute for my wife who had died giving birth to her, and she grew up to be a loving fatherly daughter, though I am ashamed to say it… in retrospect, it may have been a mistake.
I remember, it was last year on the ice age, when an unprecedented cold wave hit the northern part of the empire, and a blizzard covered all visibility, making it impossible to get out of the house, let alone out of the village.
In the meantime, the villagers had to endure the cold wave and blizzard inside their houses, and were sustaining themselves with the meat they had saved from the past hunts.
Although there were not many leftovers from the hunting, we managed to survive the cold wave by making some of the leftovers into dried meat in case we could not go outside due to the blizzard, but the problem came after that.
The cold wave and the blizzard drained our stockpile, leaving us with so little that we couldn’t afford to take care of others.
With all the stockpiles gone, there is no way I can feed Mira if I can’t even go out hunting.
But Mira is a good-natured girl, and she has a good reputation among the men in the village, so if I marry her off a little early, she won’t starve.
However, Mira’s fatherly love for her father comes back to haunt her, and she says she won’t marry someone without me.
No matter how good-natured Mira is, no one would be willing to take care of her father, who is such a miserable person, and we were at our wit’s end.
At this rate, we would have to starve to death together, and there was only one thing we could do.
That was to sell ourselves to the slavers.
If we sold ourselves to the slavers and there was no one to receive the money, in exchange for the money we could impose some conditions on the slavers.
For example, not to sell to a noble, not to sell to a demi-human, etc. And our condition to the slaver was to sell our whole family to the same place.
I would have added one more condition, but because of my leg injury, one condition was the limit in terms of money.
And so we were sold to the Counts Atmiras.
After being sold, we were put on a wagon with other slaves and came to this remote area after a long journey across the empire.
It was only then that we learned that this was unsettled land and that we had been brought here to work as laborers for the settlers.
I cursed our bad luck as supplies were brought in one after another.
Unsettled lands are almost certainly labyrinthine lands, where monsters and ‘clones’ roam around in droves.
Besides, I’ve never even hunted a normal animal, so there’s no way I can deal with monsters.
Seeing that there is no manpower other than slaves, it seems that we are supposed to take care of the settlement and the big mansion, and I was praying that at least Mira would be sent there, when the nobleman who bought us and his servant came to the settlement late, and the servant told us about our role.
It seems that the women will be put in charge of the mansion, and the men will be put in charge of setting up a new settlement and clearing the forest.
For the time being, we are relieved that we are not asked to fight against monsters, but we do not know what will happen once the construction and cultivation work is finished.
We have to do something before then…
The next morning, I woke up in a small tent with the other guys.
To tell the truth, it was not the most comfortable place to sleep, but I was able to get a good night’s sleep, probably due to the fatigue from the long trip.
As soon as I woke up, the servant instructed me to build a house.
Fortunately, I had experience in building houses, so I was able to show off my experience to the servant, and thus I was able to gain a position as a person who gives orders.
I had to make use of this experience to somehow raise my position in the settlement and make the nobleman, the leader of the settlement, remember me… that was what I was thinking.
Just as I was thinking about this, the servant who had been out for a walk around the area with the nobleman came back and told us to cultivate the farmland.
Apparently, they could find no food in the forest.
It is inevitable, but this does not allow the slaves to play a significant role among the slaves.
Nevertheless, the importance of food was well understood by all of us here, and we all obeyed the instructions, so we will have to focus on cultivating the farmland for the time being.
The next day, we continued to cultivate the farmland, but I felt that our work efficiency was slower than yesterday.
Well, maybe it is not just my imagination, but it is really getting slower.
I feel that I am more lazy in general than I was yesterday.
There are several reasons for this, being forced to work as slaves, the simple meals that are neither tasteless nor filling, the isolation from the family―and perhaps this is the most important reason―the peaceful work of cultivating the farmland, which is the most important reason for the demotivation of all of us.
Although the construction of the house, which was the first thing we were ordered to do, and the cultivation of farmland, which we are doing now, is no doubt hard work for us slaves, it is safe work in the name of settling the unexplored lands.
And yesterday, when the noble and his servant went out together to explore the forest, a common understanding was born among the slaves that we could not be assigned to such a dangerous task as exploring the forest.
The fact that they go out of their way to go into the dangerous forest by themselves when there are slaves there suggests that they do not expect us to be a fighting force in the first place and intend to treat us as simple labor power.
Once we realize this, it is no wonder that the tension we have been holding in our hearts is broken.
It is worrisome that the servant came to check the progress of the work before noon and frowned a little at the fact that the work is behind schedule, but it will not be a problem if we pick up the pace a little in the afternoon.
A little later, I saw the nobleman and the servant going out to the forest again.
We felt sorry for them after yesterday, but we were afraid of what they might say if we slowed down our work any further, so we quickened our pace and proceeded with our work.
However, our loose spirits would not return so easily, and although our work was not delayed any further, we did not make up for the delay, and the day’s work came to an end.
On the way, the nobleman and his servant who had gone into the forest were coming back with an injured person.
I wondered if the injured person was an adventurer hired from the outside to explore the labyrinth.
Well, it doesn’t make any sense if we care about them.
Just leave the labyrinth exploration to them, and we just do what we are instructed to do here, not to get into trouble by meddling in the labyrinth.
Then in the evening, it’s time for the dinner we’ve been waiting for.
That being said, it’s not the food we’ve been waiting for, though we’re surely hungry from all the work we’ve done, but we can’t wait for such a tasteless meal unless we’re on the verge of starving to death.
What we were looking forward to was a family.
We were basically separated by gender, but we only saw each other twice a day when food was brought to us.
Although we could not enjoy conversation because of the eyes of the servant, it was an important emotional support for us just to see our beloved family members safe and sound.
As I sit down at the dining table set up outside and wait, the door to the house opens and women with foods come out of the mansion in a hurry.
I see Mira among them, and I feel relieved.
Her expression is not cheerful, but she doesn’t seem to be very depressed, so I guess she is having a good time without any serious problems.
While I am observing Mira like this, today’s dinner is placed in front of me.
Huh… What the heck is this?
A thick steak, which is not a preserved food by any means, is placed in front of us with steam rising from it.
The other guys were so stunned by the steak in front of them that their minds couldn’t catch up with what was going on.
We tried to ask them why, but the women who had finished serving the food went back inside the mansion, and we were left there alone, not understanding the situation at all.
Since the food was brought to us, there was no doubt about it, but no one seemed to touch it, hesitating, wondering if it was really good for us to eat.
However, such hesitation was only in the beginning, as the unbearable smell of the steak wafted in the air, and one by one, people picked up their knives and forks.
I was no exception, as I picked up a knife and a fork and put a knife to the steak. As soon as I put my knife to the steak, the meat burst with a certain resistance, and when I pulled out the knife, the meat cut through the steak as if the resistance I felt earlier was a lie.
Just by the feel of the meat, I could tell that it was different from the tough meat of beasts I had eaten before.
As I take the cut meat into my mouth with a fork and chew it as if savoring it, the meat cuts easily while giving a pleasant sensation of resistance to my teeth, and the delicious taste of high quality fat and juices spreads in my mouth.
It was delicious, definitely better than any other meat I have ever eaten in my life.
And it was not only the meat that tasted good, the sauce on the steak also had a complex flavor that I had never tasted before in my life.
I wonder if the minced things were onions, though they brought along some vegetables that would last for a long time like onions, but the meat must have been only processed to preserve it.
The spices they must have used, for common people like us, this sauce alone would have been enough for a feast.
A thick steak of the finest meat made with such a generous use of the sauce, how could it be tasteless?
Everyone is captivated by the steaks, and for a while, the only sound is the clinking of the dishes.
But halfway through the meal, there is another sound.
I looked in that direction and saw someone crying and sobbing while eating.
Was he that moved that he cried while eating his steak?
Everyone here knew that was not the case.
Because we were all aware of the possibility, just because we were trying not to think about it.
Why was we, slaves, being served such a sumptuous dinner, since it would be our last meal?
From the looks of the nobleman and his servant who came back from the forest today, something dangerous must have happened in the forest.
If there is a danger, it is not so strange that they would think of using slaves, or that the servants, sensing our slackness, would report it to the nobleman and plan to get rid of us who do not work diligently, and the list of unpleasant imaginations is endless.
At least, no one takes this in a positive way, and a sad atmosphere is created among us.
The air between us was filled with sadness, and we could no longer afford to enjoy the taste of the steak.
I put the remaining steak in my stomach as if to process it, then get out of my seat, go back to the tent, and lie down.
Maybe my life will be gone tomorrow.
Slaves are disposable and expendable to the nobility.
Since I neglected my work, forgetting my position and thinking that I would be all right, it is no wonder that I would be cut off, and in all probability, such a slave would be cut off as well.
It may be easy to say that we deserve it, but have we done something so bad that we are discarded because of it? Is our existence that small?
As I lay there with these unconvincing thoughts in my mind, I somehow fell asleep and had a dream.
Somewhere other than my snowy hometown, in a lush village full of greenery, me and Mira living together with smiles on our faces… I couldn’t help but wish that this dream would come true, even though I knew it would never come true now that we had fallen into slavery.
Well, from a slave’s point of view, there is no way that Neil’s good intentions can be conveyed.
It will be a long time before Neil and them can communicate and talk about their feelings for each other.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.