Chapter 31 – Belzenstock City (Part 2)
I was skeptical when he said we should ‘play’ in this city for the moment. But the culture here seemed to be perfect for it.
“How long are you going to stay frozen there? We should begin our information gathering and preparations.”
Yuu seemed to be disheartened about something, but I should get more information while in his company.
Well, where should we start our information gathering?
“Yuu, do you know a perfect place to start our information gathering?”
“Hmm… how about we check out the liner that runs in this city? It’s a public institution that manages the waterway that runs in this large city. I think we should be able to find people of various classes there.”
Certainly, a liner would be necessary since large rivers spanned over this whole city and flowed into the sea.
“The slaves are rowing the boats. It would be perfect timing to get more information from them. Do you see that harbor right in front of us? Let’s go check it out.”
“As expected of Yuu. Let’s go then.”
Following Yuu’s recommendation, we headed straight to the reception area that only had a roof over it.
“Excuse me. Tickets for two, please.”
“Okey-dokey! Oh, you’re bringing a very pretty lady, bro! Are you going on a date?”
“D-d-d-da —?! N-no, I’m not! We’re —.”
Yuu told me to wait for a moment while he was buying us tickets. So I waited at a distance apart. But what could be happening with him – a dispute?
“What’s happening, Yuu? Is he an enemy? Do you want to finish him off?”
“—! R-Rena?! N-no, he’s not! He’s not an enemy! He was just teasing me a little!”
“F-finish me off …?”
Apparently, I must have mistaken him for the enemy. The old man at the reception was staring at me in bewilderment. That was too bad.
“A-Anyway, let’s get on the boat!”
“…? Yes, let’s go.”
The liner had just arrived, in time for us to get on …. Why in the world would the old man at the reception keep staring with such disagreeably warm eyes? Had it been better to finish him off after all?
“So tired ….”
I decided to observe the passengers on board and leave the exhausted Yuu. There were distinctions in class of seats, as well as people of various social stratums. The only thing they had in common was the contended and cheerful expression.
“Oh? You look like a new face around here. Are you here sightseeing?”
I glanced over to where the voice was coming from to find an elderly man with a very gentle expression. I guess I had to respond accordingly.
“That’s what I thought. So what do you think of this place? Every corner of this city is beautiful and rich, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I think this is a very wonderful city.”
Indeed, every corner of the city was well-groomed, which made the immaculate white buildings that were lined up like the Mediterranean coastal cites reflect the sunlight and the sea. It was absolutely stunning.
The market was abundantly supplied with goods, and the dazzling smiles of the passersby could not be subdued even by the bright sun – it was as if they had no worries about tomorrow.
“But even though you’re so young… it must have been tough on you to walk such a great distance through places infested with monsters while hauling heavy luggage… Would you like some candy?”
“Thank you very much.”
The elderly man handed me some candy. Apparently, it was the product of his shop.
“I’m fine. But the same goes for you, don’t you have a hard time dragging along heavy luggage at your age? Isn’t it tough on your back?”
While maintaining the conversation with the elderly man, I put the candy in my mouth.
“What are you saying? We should just leave that sort of thing to the slaves!”
Oh? I had been walking on eggshells regarding this subject. But even this elderly man, who seemed to be the kindest person, gave me a perplexed look as if I had said something out of the ordinary.
Even such a seemingly good person perceived slaves as objects, not people…
“… It would be riveting if this whole thing were to be overturned.” I whispered to myself.
“Did you say something?”
“Oh no, it’s nothing. You’re right; we usually let the slaves handle them, don’t we?”
Oops, my bad. I should answer properly, but I wanted to savor this uplifting feeling.
“… He heard it. As expected, he’s scary.” I whispered to myself again.
“Well, this is my stop. Please, enjoy your trip.”
The elderly man disembarked at the next harbor. I had no one else to talk to, I shall go meet the slaves who were rowing this boat.
Everyone was staring this way – people who were holding back their tears, people who looked desperately and in agony – though there were various people, what they all had in common was the lack of resignation in their expressions.
I presumed there would be at least one person who would show a sign of giving up. But as far as my eyes could observe, everyone was persevering as if supporting something.
“… Perhaps there is an underground organization of slaves.”
“It could just be my imagination, though.”
Hmm, we shall officially continue this investigation. This might be useful for my planning.