As I finished the soup I heard the Fire Foxes raise their voices. I turned around and was surprised to see they were much closer than before.
All of them were staring at the soup in the pot passionately. I suppose they couldn’t ignore the delicious smell wafting about.
「Umm…everyone the soup is ready so line up. I’ll pour it into your cups.」
I said and saw all of them run off, rummage in their luggage, find their cups, and hurry to line up.
Under Kuu’s watchful eyes they lined up properly.
「Okay here you go.」
「Thank you Elf-oniichan!」
「You’re welcome, it’s hot so be careful.」
I stood there pouring soup into each of their cups. I had just given some to a young Fire Fox girl.
They handed me their cups and I handed it back to them full of hot soup.
I smiled at her and the young Fire Fox girl smiled back. I saw some admiration and a bit of worship in her eyes.
To be honest it would be faster if I simply gave them three ladles and let them fill their own cups.
However, I wouldn’t do that.
This was the perfect opportunity to show off what a good person I was.
When the Fire Foxes arrived they were filthy, sweaty, shivering from the cold, and starving.
In these trying times I gave them a shower to clean themselves, a nice place to live, and personally handed them hot food. I must look almost divine to them.
The more people were cornered the greater the feeling of gratitude they would feel towards the person who saved them.
I’m sure the Fire Foxes would never forget the taste of the soup I had made for them today.
After this they would surely tolerate most things.
A short time later the soup had finally been distributed to everyone.
「So good…it’s so good.」
「Un, it’s delicious.」
「It’s been so long…since I’ve had something so delicious…」
「We…survived. We’re alive.」
They all ate the soup with fervor.
It was made with whatever we had on hand, but the pressure cooked boar bone and meat soup was filled with flavor. Plus there was plenty of gelatin-like materials inside of the soup which made it considerably filling.
I tried a bit and found it well cooked.
I could hear the voices and sounds the Fire Foxes made.
They were worn-out and crying.
They had all begun crying. They must be thinking of the family, friends, and lovers they left behind.
After they got cleaned and ate hot food their nerves must have relaxed.
They had escaped from their village and undergone a harsh journey. Up til now they had no opportunity to cry or face their sadness.
Once they arrived here they finally regained the energy to mourn.
The most painful times were when you were suffering but unable to mourn.
「Everyone it’s alright now. We can start new lives here. We need to do it for everyone who fought for us too.」
Amongst them Kuu tried to cheer up the Fire Foxes.
Everyone was crying yet she smiled, leant them her shoulder, consoled them, and listened to their grumbles.
Now that I looked she wasn’t holding a cup of soup. She probably didn’t take the time to get any since she was constantly trying to care for the rest of them.
Even now a small girl had leapt into her chest crying 「Kuu-anesama」 as Kuu patted her head.
Kuu’s expression wasn’t one of sadness like everyone else, it was instead a saintly smile.
I couldn’t just stand by and watch this any longer.
I prepared a large dish and poured a big helping of soup into it as I opened my mouth.
「Everyone we have more soup if you want it. Take as much as you want you can empty this pot out.」
I said and all the Fire Foxes with empty cups leapt up fiercely.
Of course even the girl who had been crying into Kuu’s chest as well.
It was a bit calculative, but necessary.
「Kuu, I have something to speak to you about as representative next door.」
Kuu said and stood up empty-handed.
She must have been starving but she didn’t even give a second glance to her untouched soup that she left on the ground.
I couldn’t help but let out a bitter smile at Kuu’s actions.
「Okay then, let’s go.」
I said and took Kuu to the warehouse that stored the Imperial equipment.