「We had planned to move outside the village to fight the Empire, but we were dealt a crushing defeat and scurried back to the village. The reason we lost was just as you said Cyril-sama…they attacked using bows that could hit us beyond our range and wind stone wielding mages to block our flames.」
Kuu’s face warped as she spoke.
I could see her sadness and anger.
「My father who led the village’s warriors could see that no matter how we struggled we would not prevail. So he decided that the women and children who couldn’t fight would be sent to escape and the ones who could fight would stay behind to buy time.」
That’s why Kuu and the others ran here.
If the men all fought to the ends of their lives, the Fire Fox women would have been kidnapped and used as magic stone mass production tools.
「My father took into account that if we all escaped as one group and were caught, our race would be wiped out. So at minimum our group had to be split into two different parties. The idea was also that a smaller group would find it easier to escape.」
「As I thought. If I was in that position I would probably make similar choices.」
Even attempting to escape from the Empire was hard enough. Not to mention they didn’t know if the place they ran to would treat them as allies or capture them. Entrusting the entire future of their entire race on the good graces of a single village was too high of a risk.
「According to my father’s orders we set up two escape groups. However, one group was filled with women who could travel, the second group was filled with women with similar stamina levels, a number of men to guard them, and some girls who were too young to travel on their own. The second group received most of the money and much more food than our group.」
「Seems like that other group got preferential treatment.」
「Yes, in all honesty our group who came here was simply insurance against a mishap. My father put his hopes of our future on the other group. Amongst the male guards of that group is my brother.」
Speaking of her older brother…he would’ve been the next chief I suspect. Plus there weren’t only women…there were men and children as well.
The second group wouldn’t be like Kuu’s group. They wouldn’t have to mix in with the local population, they could have pure Fire Fox descendants.
「I see, so your brother led his group to a village in the opposite direction of Erucy…」
「Yes, we have a certain degree of friendship with them also….」
Kuu paused for a second sounding noncommittal.
「At worst you could force them to listen to you using force.」
「I see you understand…that’s how it is. Even if we couldn’t win against the Empire we’re still strong. As long as we have enough numbers our fighting strength is overwhelming.」
Fire magic was strong enough for her to speak those words confidently.
The situation I feared most when Roleau and Kuu were arguing in the middle of town was the Fire Foxes going wild in despair and attacking indiscriminately.
If we allowed them to go wild that close to us, there would be serious casualties before we could quell them.
Even so, us Elves with our wind magic could neutralize them if we remained collected. Other races weren’t the same, the races that could hold back the Fire Foxes once they decided to use force were limited.
The Fire Foxes could easily control an average village.
However, I’m sure that they realized that if they did so there was a good chance that the village they controlled would send out a cry for help from the Empire.
「Using force is the last resort. However, I could not agree to that and decided to come here.」
「So that’s they reason you came here Kuu? Thinking about your position I didn’t think you would be a sacrificial pawn.」
「My Father arranged for my escape there, but I refused. I could not live on the backs of sinless people who we had harmed…also the girls of this group were all people who needed strong leadership. It might be hubris, but I doubt that they would have made it here without me pulling them along.」
As Kuu had said none of these girls looked particularly decisive.
I couldn’t see anyone with any leadership skills, so I suspected that they would have collapsed and died somewhere along the way.
「Kuu’s a nice girl.」
「That’s not true. I’m just cowardly. I fail as a Chief…I can’t bear to make sacrifices. Plus I wanted to see Cyril-kun and Lucy-chan if I could…」
Kuu said with a tired smile.
「Because of how you are I was able to meet you again. I’m grateful for that. I just can’t understand why you chose Erucy as insurance. There’s no way you could have known we escaped from the Empire’s control right? Normally you wouldn’t choose our place.」
「It’s simple. After a battle we escaped but were able to capture some soldiers. From them we heard some information. They said that their capture of Erucy had failed and they had to conquer our Fire Fox village by all means. We just didn’t know that you had defeated a force of 500 soldiers.」
「I guess it is pretty simple when you say it like that.」
If it was common knowledge amongst soldiers they had captured then it should be trustworthy.
We had somehow or another defeated the Empire’s forces so they could use our village as insurance.
However, once Fire Foxes and Elves lived in the same village the Empire would absolutely never give up on conquering us. I could understand the fear of putting all you eggs in one basket.
「Is that all you have to ask?」
「I have a bit more.」
I paused for a short while. This would probably be a hard choice for Kuu.
「Tomorrow I’m planning on going to see the Fire Fox Village. It’s only around 70 Km away. I’ll use my magic to the full extent and can get there in around 2 hours.
My objective is to see if the village has been conquered by the Empire. If it has been they can use it as a relay station to intensify their attacks on Erucy. The other reason is for salt. Since I’ve received mining rights I want to take away as much as I can before the snow falls.」
As soon as I said I’d visit the village Kuu’s hands shook.
「I can handle carrying one person. I’d like you to come with me to guide me. However, it isn’t absolutely necessary. If you just mark where I can find the salt on a map I can manage somehow and I can observe the situation myself. Knowing this I ask you…will you come with me Kuu? I personally don’t recommend it. It won’t be easy seeing the village if it’s controlled by the Empire. It might hurt you needlessly.」
「Then why are you asking me?」
「I want you to think for yourself.」
I wouldn’t say the reason.
If I had to put it to words, it was the Chief’s responsibility.
I let time pass. I didn’t try to convince her.
After a minute Kuu slowly opened her mouth.
「Please take me with you.」
I silently nodded.