Chapter 70: Imperial Education
From the looks of it, I don’t think I can get into the store.
Even if I force my way in, I’m afraid I’ll cause an unnecessary commotion.
I turned around and walked away, taking Zoe with me.
Now that my guess is off, what should I do?
I don’t think I can visit Alice’s place for the time being, so I should explore a new place.
While thinking so, I walked through the crowded streets.
“Well, I never thought I’d see you here.”
I heard a somewhat playful tone of voice, what is it? I turned my head toward the voice.
Byron was there.
Byron came right in front of me and bowed deeply.
He didn’t kneel because he knew I was going incognito and didn’t want anyone to know who I was.
“What are you doing in a place like this.”
“I was just in the neighborhood for a business meeting.
I didn’t ask him what kind of business he was discussing.
If he wanted to tell me, he would, and I’m sure he has things he’d rather I didn’t hear.
“Looks like you have some spare time on your hands. Would you like me to show you around?”
“Well, do you know where …… the refugees were gathered?”
“Yes, I know it.”
“Take me there.”
Why? Byron didn’t ask for a reason.
It’s been ten years since we’ve known each other, and it’s not something that would surprise me now.
With Byron leading the way, I walked south with Zoe in tow.
As we passed through a number of main streets, the scenery changed drastically, becoming more and more desolate.
If what we had just seen was the front, the light part of the city, then this was the darkness at last.
The air was stagnant and the atmosphere was filled with such a feeling.
I could see refugees sitting on the ground, slumped in various places along the street.
Seeing this, I raised my eyebrows slightly.
Then Byron started speaking, even though I hadn’t asked him.
“It seems that the kitchen serves mainly liquid food twice a day.”
“Yeah, the refugees – especially the starving people – have weakened stomachs. That’s what I ordered them to do.”
“I see, excellent, sir.”
“…… There are a good number of children here.”
What do you mean? Byron looked at me with such expression.
I didn’t answer him but walked further while observing.
Some of the refugees stared at me suspiciously, but most of them were so weak that they didn’t have the energy to do so.
“Hey, hey, this is your last chance, okay?”
I heard a cheerful voice that didn’t belong to the refugees.
The voice was cheerful, but the emotions and nuances I could hear were nerve-wracking and unpleasant.
I walked toward the voice.
There was a man and his daughter who looked like a refugee family, and a middle-aged man who was flicking cash at them.
What the man was flashing at them were a few silver coins.
“Think about it, it’s 5 reens, right? Why don’t you sell your daughter to me for 5 reens and have your weight off?:
“Isn’t it going to be a drag to have a kid in the future? You’d be wiser to take this 5 reens and fill your belly with something better.”
The father nodded his head in resignation.
The man grinned and gave the father the 5 reens he was holding and tried to pull the frightened girl away from him.
“Noo! Stop it! Father! Father!”
“–! N-No, you can’t!”
The father’s expression distorts as he clings desperately to his daughter.
He tried to return the 5 reens he had just received to the man – the buyer.
In fact, it was painful for him, and once he pushed her away, but when he saw her crying and begging for help, he reconsidered.
It’s not hard to understand either way, but…
“Oi, Oi, the deal was made once, you know? Don’t tell me it’s not.”
“If you insist, you’ll have to buy her back.”
“O-okay, I’ll buy back.”
“I’ll sell it back for 10 reens.”
The father’s voice sounded like a scream.
“T-Ten reens, just like that!?”
“I bought it, and it’s now my product. How much I want to sell it for is up to me, isn’t it?”
“You’re so persistent. Don’t make me tell you to give up.”
The father looked like he was about to start crying – the daughter had already started crying.
She desperately tried to reach out to her father and cling to him, sobbing, while being grabbed by the people.
As I expected, this didn’t feel good.
I take a step forward.
“Here are 10 reens, I will buy her.”[TN: They are using terms for objects rather than humans]
The buyer gave me a disturbed look.
“What are you doing? Don’t interrupt me, I’m doing my job.:
“You mean business, right? I’ll give you 10 reens. Return the girl.”
” …… I told you, it’s my choice how much I sell her for. For you, it’s 100reens.”
I found that my temples were twitching.
However, I suppressed my anger.
“I understand, here’s 100.”
After putting my hands in my pockets, I remembered.
I had no money.
The emperor has no money.
Even if they are going incognito, the emperor is not supposed to carry cash.
It is etiquette and a kind of duty.
But that doesn’t mean ‘I don’t have any money’.
In this case…
“Please, use this.”
I was expecting Zoe, who was carrying the wallet, to take it out, but it was Byron who moved first.
Byron held out a leather bag full of silver coins to me.
“What are you saying? I couldn’t be more honored. I thank God that I was lucky enough to be here.”
I took the leather bag and threw it at the buyer.
I didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure there were over 100 in that leather bag.
The man- that buyer was puzzled for a moment, but then caught the leather bag firmly.
He stared at it for a moment and then threw it back to me.
“I’ve changed my mind. I’m not selling it to you.”
Again, my temples twitched.
“What kind of slavers are you?”
“What’s it to you?”
I glared at him and asked him a question, which made him take a step backward.
“Hey, how’s it going over there?”
“What? You only bought just one person yet?”
“What are you waiting for?”
A group of men who looked like fellow buyers began to gather around him.
All of them had a few children with them.
The children were all reluctant, but they were already collared and chained.
“This guy’s in the way.”
The first buyer explained the situation to his friends.
“You look like some young master, but if you stick your nose in too far you’ll get burned.”
One of them threw out the usual threats.
“Where are you guys from? Do you have a license?”
I asked, and they exchanged eye contact.
“Hey, we’re gonna hurt you a little, okay.”
“That’s right. Oi! Gather around!”
One of them shouted, and more and more people, those who looked like buyers started to gather around, like, “What is it?”.
In the end, there were fifteen of them.
They quickly explained the situation to their friends, and all of them prepared themselves to set a trap for me.
I silently pulled Leviathan out of my bracelet.
Wielding my demon sword, which was trailing a light blue light, I swung it at the men- the buyers who were coming at me at once.
The men were familiar with these situations, but it was only a level of familiarity with thug fights.
One by one, I cut down the attackers and beat them back.
It only took two minutes to deal with the fifteen men.
One of the refugees who had gathered around screamed when he saw those people who had been cut down and were bleeding.
I didn’t kill any of them – but I guess you can’t see that.
“It’s a murderer! Somebody call the guards!”
“Don’t let the murderer escape!”
This time, the refugees surrounded me.
They were afraid of me because I had the leviathan in my hand, but they didn’t want to let me go.
After a while, a group of guards arrived, breaking through the crowd of refugees.
“Move, move! What’s going on?”
“Sir, that’s him, that’s the murderer.”
One of the refugees told the young man who seemed to be the leader of the guards what had happened.
And then the leader of the guards who heard it headed over to us with glaring eyes.
“What! Y-Your Majesty!”
He looked so surprised, as if he had just found a ghost, that he immediately dropped to one knee and bowed to me.
“My apologies, I didn’t know that His Majesty the Emperor was here!”
Immediately after the guard said this, there was a few seconds of silence.
“You are in the presence of His Majesty the Emperor!”
Zoe said in a voice that was clear – and increasingly dignified.
The refugees present looked at the guard and all knelt down at the same time.
Then, I asked the guard leader.
“Did you recognize my face?”
It was unusual for a guard.
“Yes! I – well, I was one of Rice-sama’s subordinates, and for a while, I was an errand boy for the Ministry of Military Affairs.”
I was there when Henry was in the Ministry of War, so I guess I’d seen his face before.
“It’s really the Emperor.”
“The Emperor has defeated the bad guys?”
“How powerful he is ……”
Normally, people would refrain from talking in front of the emperor, but the refugees from the countryside didn’t understand that and were whispering their opinions.
I ignored them and ordered the guard leader.
“Catch these people. They are suspected of being illegal slavers.”
“By your will!”
Once the order was given, the rest was quick.
The guards were very good at what they were doing, and they took the people I had cut down – those who had not been killed – and took them somewhere.
I looked around.
Children …… drags you down, was it?
I remembered the words of the buyer earlier.
The father tried to sell the child, even for a moment – no, in fact, considering that there are other people who sold the child, as long as you are a refugee, the child can become a drag.
If that’s the case with a child then for example a baby would be a complete liability.
However, people are treasures.
Especially the babies who still have nothing but hope.
“Baby …… infant …… education……”
I don’t like the way it sounds.
In this case…
“Go to Don and have him set up a ‘nursery’. If the refugees can’t handle them, let the kids stay there for a year- no, three years.”[TN: Although I used nursery, it’s more of a school boarding home, I guess]
Zoe, who is loyal to me, accepted the order without saying anything else.
On the other hand, Byron, who was watching the whole thing closely, said.
“As expected, Your Majesty.”
He said with a smile.
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