“Father, how can there be a village out here? I mean, look at the place. There’s not even a plant in sight.”
“We’ve just entered the wasteland. We can’t know for sure unless we’ve traveled a bit more.”
I replied so to my son’s whining.
“You know we have to do this. That we have to succeed. This is the last and only chance we have of preventing our village from starving to death this coming winter.”
There have been a series of tax increases in the land lately.
According to rumors, the lord of the land was preparing to start another war somewhere.
This was an age of war, so wars were not unusual in the slightest. Even so, this might be a war bigger than any other, if the taxes being imposed were any indication.
Whatever the case might be, the fact of the matter was that small villages, like the one I led, just couldn’t afford to pay these taxes anymore.
Specially after the abysmal harvest this year. If nothing changed, we wouldn’t have enough to feed ourselves through the winter.
Try as I might, the only way I could see us getting through was by making a certain gamble.
I had heard that the lord’s son was sent to reclaim this wasteland. If he ever succeeded, perhaps some of our villagers could work for him. It was often the case that newly developed lands were exempt from taxes, allowing us to earn just barely enough to make it through the winter.
“And you should realize how much of a pipe dream that is. This place is uninhabited because no one can develop it, despite the many attempts. Now you’re saying a kid of ten or so and without any follower can do it? I doubt it, to put it lightly. Considering the rumors saying his Gift’s completely useless, the more likely reason the kid’s here is that he’s been exiled after losing some kind of political struggle. Either way, he’s probably either dead already or has escaped somewhere else.”
My son’s points were reasonable. However, we simply had no choice other than to see this one through.
“Haa, why, why did I have to be born in such a small village? One without beautiful women at that…”
“Haa. If I went to the city and tried to become an adventurer when I was young, my life might have turned out differently. Better.”
Listening to my son whine without restraint, something inside me snapped.
“What’s the point of complaining about things now, you stupid son of mine!?”
“I’m so terribly sorry our village is small! Damn it, if our ancestors heard you spout such nonsense about the village they so desperately developed, they’d be rolling in their graves! You narrow-minded fool, how can you call yourself the son of the village chief!?”
“Also, you, become an adventurer? Ha! How can someone who always gives up at the first signs of hardships and have no courage at all ever become one?”
“Hold on there, Father… you don’t have to go that far…”
“No! This time I’ll say everything I want to say! To begin with! You find faults with what people are trying to do, yet offer no better plan. This journey is exactly that. You whine and moan about every single little thing! It’s because you’re like that that I’m forced to remain the village chief despite being over 50 already! And need I remind you why an old fart like me is here in the wasteland? Because you said you didn’t want to go alone, that’s why!”
“…! F-father! Look there!”
“Don’t change the subject! I’m going to talk some sense into you today!”
“Just look, will you!? It’s a stone wall! A stone wall out here in this wasteland!”
My son was madly pointing his finger at something, so I reluctantly looked.
“What are you talking about?”
“Has your eyesight gotten that bad that you can’t see it? That’s for sure a stone wall. Maybe there really is a village here!”
My son ran.
At first, I thought he was just trying to escape my lecture, but after a while of following him, I too saw what he was trying to show me.
“Wh…it’s…it’s true…there truly is a stone wall…then…”
As much as I could tell, the walls were easily over 3 meters tall.
Furthermore, it seemed to stretch infinitely left and right.
It looked too splendid to be used for surrounding a simple village. It was comparable to those used in cities.
“But that kind of wall takes years to make, doesn’t it…?”
“I-I believe so, Father.”
The both of us were dumbfounded.
Has someone been developing this wasteland all this time without our knowledge?
That was the only explanation I could think of for the existence of these walls.
“A-at any rate, let’s get closer.”
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