「Good morning Lucy」
I was preparing a fairly late lunch as Lucy sluggishly got down from the wagon.
I had lit a fire and placed a stone on it. On top of the stone was deer meat that was roasting.
After an hour of lazing around under the blankets I decided to get up and finish preparing the deer. I skinned it and cut up the meat. There was surprisingly more than I thought.
Now that it was noon the fire wouldn’t stand out as much. As long as something entered the 300 meter range of my perception I could quickly get rid of the flames and smoke.
「Sorry Cyril, I fell asleep.」
「It isn’t surprising. You were waiting for me to get back all night yesterday right?」
「Un, that’s right, but I didn’t wake up and keep watch.」
Lucy had sat outside shivering in the cold in fear that I would die. She was also being crushed under the pressure that if we didn’t return to the village with food, they would starve. Even as we rode the carriage her body and mind were under constant stress.
To say it simply, her body and mind were overburdened. Unlike me, Lucy was a normal girl. In fact it was praiseworthy she had lasted so well.
「I guess you’re right, it would’ve been best to keep watch properly. If we were caught by the soldiers yesterday we’d both be dead. However, if they were able to make it out here yesterday then it would’ve been because they followed me. It would’ve been my fault. So it’s not your responsibility Lucy.」
「But, I came with you here so I could help out. I didn’t end up doing anything.」
「You did do some. You drove the wagon and took care of things so I could preserve my stamina for the attack. If I was alone I might have gone crazy from the strain. Since Lucy was with me my mind could relax some. Plus it helped that you were there to motivate me in coming back.」
All of the things I said were true. But there was one thing I left out…I would’ve been too worried if I left her in the village.
I was afraid that if I wasn’t there the villagers would turn their dissatisfaction and anger on Lucy.
Each of them individually was a good person, but when gathered together the ugliness that usually lay dormant may awaken.
「I’m happy that you’d say that Cyril, but I can’t forgive myself that easily.」
Lucy was honest and stubborn. She was fairly indulgent to other people but strict with herself. I had to convince her of my words.
「Is that so? Then I’ll punish you. Once we get back to the village you’ll have to listen to one order I give. I’ll forgive you after that.」
「Okay then, what is it?」
「Who knows? I’m thinking about it. On the way back imagine what I’ll do to you and shiver in fear.」
「It’s Cyril so I don’t think it’ll be anything bad…but it’s a little bit scary.」
Lucy smiled wryly.
But still……she’s perceptive. I wouldn’t force her to do anything she really hated. But I was still going to let her feel nervous about it.
「Part of the punishment is not knowing what I’ll ask for.」
「Quite a light punishment…」
「It’s your first offense. I won’t easily forgive the same mistake a second time. But today it couldn’t be helped. Lucy is an amateur with immature mental and physical strength. I was surprised you lasted for these past few days. You have talent for it. If you trained you’ll be able to improve.」
「But Cyril is an amateur too…..I’ll do my best. I’ll get stronger so I don’t have to be coddled.」
「I’m looking forward to it.」
「But….if you’ll even forgive a second time then what happens on the third?」
「Nothing. If they fail a third time then they’re incapable so I won’t trust them again. I’ll let them go do whatever.」
「That seems harsher than just getting angry.」
Lucy said with a bitter smile.
In my experience anyone who makes similar mistakes three times can’t be used.
They were people you could only give unimportant jobs to.
However, I’m sure Lucy would be fine.
「Okay then, the deer is finished cooking so let’s eat.」
I sprinkled some salt on the meat. I placed it on Lucy’s plate. I had scraped off the most delicious meat from around the bone, minced it, and mixed it with salt and lily wasabi. I added a small amount of cranberry juice for some sourness.
「Using this much salt two days in a row is a waste.」
「I stole plenty of it so it’s fine. There’s nothing to worry about. Returning to the village will eat up our strength so we have to make sure to get enough salt.」
「It’ll be hard to go back after this kind of luxury.」
To tell the truth, salt was fairly high on my list of priorities when I stole supplies.
The mountainous region where we live didn’t have a lot of salt. Before our enslavement by the empire we could buy salt from peddlers who stopped by or we could go to the Fire Fox village for rock salt. But afterwards, the empire had monopolized all these goods.
Salt was an essential in life, so unlike the days when you could buy it individually, the empire only gave us the bare minimum we needed. It made the village treat salt as a precious commodity.
Even if it’s a bit too much the salt taste is delicious! We’d never used enough salt to be able to say that.
This attack allowed me to bring along plenty of salt, but I’d have to secure a supply route in the near future.
Next I’ll have to go to the Fire Fox village. The Fire Foxes excelled in combat and were still resisting the Empire. I even had some old friends in their village. We might be able to build a relationship between our villages.