TL notes: I had wanted to finish this chapter before Christmas as a gift to all of you, but the ending was kind of confusing for me to translate. I worked everything out now, so here’s the next chapter!!
Volume 1, 1-3: Life in the Barracks
How much can a human hate another person?
Fin absentmindedly considered this thought. He was brought all the way to the barracks by the man who he thought was the gatekeeper this whole time but was actually the captain, and his name was Masod. Fin, fortunately or unfortunately, seemed to have piqued his interest and would be receiving direct leadership from him. In short, Fin would be treated like a slave.
It wasn’t of the likes of military training, but in any case, he was being pushed around. He was called over with the jerk of the chin and generally was forced made to run around from the barracks to the barns and harbor for trivial errands.
Although because of this, he had witnessed the soldiers’ corruption and rampageous behavior throughout the city. He was glad he wasn’t ordered to join in even more evil acts and could just finish his job.
(Be patient; just endure it.)
When he was not constantly repeating this in his innermost thoughts, he wanted to take up a rebellious attitude once more. Just now, he was told once again to shine the shoes that he just shone, and when he took the ordered item, he was coldly sent back with, “Not this, that.” And moments like this were usually accompanied by sneers and abuse.
However, if Fin were to glare back even a little, Masod would immediately exaggerate a surprised response, and laughing like a wild animal, he would say.
“Ooh, so scary, so scary. It seems like I have to call over the guy to handle your discipline.”
Given that situation, Fin had no choice but to shut up and bow his head without saying anything. In order to protect Nellis, Uncle, and Aunt, he told himself, “I need to be here—” and grit his molars together.
And like that, Fin was not able to do anything about the circumstances outside as he was forced to run around. Questions such as will the former army corps really take up the job of protecting at night, or where did they get their food supply, or is his family safe.
But, on the fifth day, the opportunity finally came. He was ordered to go to the harbor’s Temple of Audia. A soldier named Iguros talked to Fin while the man brought him along the way.
“The reason why those Beasts don’t come and attack from the sea is thanks to Lady Fianera preventing the sacred flame from being extinguished.”
Only in these moments did he act respectful, even with such a ruffian’s expression. Fin was slightly amazed but didn’t say anything as he looked at the wharf. The scale of the temple, which was towering on the tip of the cape, was so high it didn’t match the scale of the town. Nanais was a port city that prospered on fishing and trade, so The Mother of the Sea Audia was a very important guardian goddess to them.
Once, Oandus even took the whole family out to visit the temple. It may be unthinkable that a miller would have any relation to a sea goddess, but without a strong sea breeze, the windmill wouldn’t spin. That was why even Fin could recognize the face of the priestess, Fianera.
The group of bandits and the former army soldiers, as expected, couldn’t lay a hand on the temple. On the path to the temple, there were many figures of citizens, and when the soldiers came by, they noticed and moved aside, shifting their eyes that were a mix of both animosity and fear. Yet, Iguros instead looked proud and glared at them arrogantly. Fin, unable to stand them, looked down and bit his lip.
Iguros didn’t head directly to the temple but approached the harbor. There, for the first time, Fin knew of how the town’s food situation was dependent on such a dangerous lifeline.
“You rely only on boats?”
Fin unintentionally asked, and Iguros shrugged his shoulders and responded.
“The areas a horse can travel have been taken, you know. Well, there may still be some left, but…..the whole surface of the sea is graciously protected by Master Audia.”
On both sides of the ship’s bow and stern hung many square lanterns, and bags of wheat and some kind of wooden boxes and vases were being lowered down. But, that was not all; there were also things you don’t want to know where they found it or how they obtained it. A lump of half-eaten cheese, an impressive amount of jerky and walnuts, a liquor jar that was obviously for family use, etc.
“Even if night were to fall, the Beasts won’t chase after us if we run to the sea. Besides, our ship, no matter what, is being protected by the sacred flame after all.”
Even while he was moving his mouth, he used hand gestures to signal to his comrades coming down from the ship and distributed the goods to be carried to the temple. After a short while, Fin was made to carry the profoundly heavy luggage on his back, and while continually making complaints inside his head like, “Why is the temple in such a high place,” as he climbed the hill road and stairways with great effort.
Iguros, who went first, carried luggage with both of his arms, but maybe because his weren’t as heavy as Fin’s or this was everyday training to him, he didn’t look worried at all.
When Fin struggled and finally arrived at the temple entrance one way or another, he was out of breath and fell down on his knees. Iguros turned his head and scoffed, “You’re sloppy, youngster”, but Fin preferred this way of laughing over the glares he got when he first came to the city.
“Wait there. I’ll make a slave or someone else take it up.”
He left that message and entered the shrine by himself. Unable to give a reply, Fin sat down on that spot, and while watching over the luggage, he steadied his breathing. And it was at that moment.
“Big Bro Fin!?”
He was called out in a familiar voice, and he immediately turned around.
The figure of his younger sister appeared from the inside of the temple, causing relief to wash over him. They were safe! He forgot his fatigue and stood up, holding Nellis tightly. She also tightly clung to him and buried her face in his shoulder. After a while, she unwrapped her arms and looked up at him and showed a painful, bitter smile.
“Big Bro, you stink of sweat.”
“Is that something you say to someone you haven’t encountered in five days?”
Fin looked depressed, but he soon broke out into a smile and stroked Nellis’ head. In just a mere 5 days, it looked like Nellis had become quite thin and dirty.
“How are Uncle and Aunt? Did they find a place to live?”
“Yeah, they’re in Mr. Kunad’s house. They’re…..getting by.”
Nellis was ambiguous with her words and dropped her gaze. Fin lightly grabbed her shoulders.
“Really? Is there enough food? They’re not injured or sick, right?”
“I already told you that they’re fine. You don’t need to worry, Big Bro Fin. The distribution of wheat flour is more or less steady, and Mr. Kunad is a good person. Though the things we brought with us are nearly gone….”
“Were they taken?”
Nellis bit her lip and shook her head, and when she suddenly lifted her face, she forced a smile.
“It’s because other people need it more than us. Really, there’s isn’t enough of anything. All of those in Mr. Kunad’s place….how many are there? Maybe around 20 people? Practically everyone had all their possessions taken away by the soldiers or even the rest of the townsfolk, is what I heard. That’s why to just monopolize everything…is something we can’t do…..pots and blankets, are being used by everyone. Food disappears in a blink of an eye, and even my doll….was given away.”
The last words seemed to vanish. Fin pitifully scowled. Nellis was no longer at an age to play with dolls, but she took great care with that doll that her mother made for her when she was young, and she even believed that a soul resided inside of it. Of all things, to part with that in such a difficult time.
“…..You’re admirable, Nellis.”
Fin mumbled and softly placed his lips to his little sister’s forehead. Nellis finally broke out into a real smile and blinked numerous times to hide the tears forming in her eyes, puffing out her chest triumphantly.
“I’m fine. I’m no longer that kid anymore, so really, I’m fine. I’ll be 15 soon…and an adult, you know.”
To this, Fin unintentionally laughed and stared intently at that face that can’t possibly look like an “adult”. He somehow endured as he didn’t want to laugh too much and apologized, “My bad, my bad.” Nellis turned away with a sulky look.
“Sheesh, Big Bro Fin, you really ruin the mood! Well, since you know the truth, I couldn’t deceive Big Bro, like how I did to those idiot monkeys in town.”
“What’s with that? This is the first I’ve heard of this. Was that so?”
To Fin, who again asked with an unintentional idiotic face, Nellis clearly responded.
“You don’t need to worry. It’s because I proper~ly informed and enlightened you.”
“Nellis, you, what did you say? What is it?”
Fin frowned and drew closer. It wasn’t like he was particularly wanted to be friendly with the girls of the town. Anyways, if they were Nellis’ friends, then they were all just kids, and he wouldn’t even think about having any love affairs with them. But, this was a completely different problem than that.
Nellis gazed at Fin’s reaction to her words and smirked.
“It’s nothing~ I did say the truth, though. My brother is as damn serious as a gravestone and more boring than a dead fish. What? Before you bring up that it’s a fraud scam, I’ve saved you, so you should be thankful to me, you know.”
His head hurt. Fin looked down and placed his hand between his brows. The people around them, who heard the conversation between the two of them, couldn’t hold back their stifled laughter.
As one would have expected, the older brother became pitiful, so Nellis suddenly became serious and changed the conversation.
“Speaking of being boring, about what Big Bro was saying before.”
“What was it?”
While Fin was a little cautious, he pressed on. But, Nellis did not laugh and shrugged her shoulders and continued.
“When you mentioned that maybe the heavens are in a more serious situation than down here on the ground, well, it may actually be true. I talked to Dad and the others about it.”
“It’s not exactly that. But then again, in reality, isn’t it strange? Even though the Beasts of Darkness are appearing in succession, creatures such as ghosts and dwarves haven’t been seen. In the past, there were a ton of them, right? Even dragons…..well, those are originally noble creatures and people say that their numbers are scarce, but don’t ghosts and dwarves generally appear before people and stuff? So why aren’t there any……only the Beasts of Darkness are coming in swarms, as usual.”
It was a very unpleasant feeling. Bringing the conversation to an end, Nellis stared at the platform which was sticking out of the tip of the cape. There, one could clearly see that it was noon now and the bright yellow flame was shining.
“…..Surely, that won’t hold out much longer.”
Nellis muttered. Fin unconsciously responded, “Yeah”. Afterward, he harbored a question for himself, but for no reason, the conviction born from his chest would not waver. That could be because of the seriousness in Nellis’s gaze as she stared at the flame.
“Why that is, I don’t really understand, but that’s how I feel. It’s not good, you know.”
“Yeah. But, you shouldn’t say things like that.”
If such rumors were to spread, what would happen? Fin shuddered and prayed for the flame to continue to burn, even for a day longer.
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