It has gotten noticeably colder recently.
Summer has ended, giving way to fall. Soon enough, winter would be here.
“I got here around spring time, so it’s been half a year already, huh.”
“I believe so, Luke-sama. Back then, I wondered about what would happen to us, but I didn’t expect in the slightest that we would be able to have such a grand village in this short amount of time. And it’s all thanks to you, Luke-sama.”
“It’s mostly my Gift we have to thank, I think.”
After founding the village, refugees arrived one group after another. Before we knew it, we had a population of nearly 700 people.
Right now, the village was surrounded by two layers of stone walls.
I had decided to separate the fields from everything else by adding an inner wall. Because the village grew in size again, we could add more fields should we need to. Of course, if the space within the inner wall becomes insufficient, we could just reposition the fields and the inner wall itself to make space.
Speaking of the space within the inner wall, it was lined with a lot of terrace houses.
Previously, each terrace house only had one room for all the toilets. Moreover, there were no baths at all. However, through Facility Customization, I was able to give each unit of a terrace house their own toilet and bath rooms.
Like that, the villagers should all have comfortable living conditions now.
That being said, the public bathhouse still had great traffic each day. If anything, because of the increased population of the village, it served more villagers now than before. So much so that I built another one.
Winter was fast approaching, and with it, came the worry about our stock of food.
Thankfully though, the harvesting of our crops was going well. Additionally, our hunters have been diligently obtaining meat for us.
As long as nothing major happens, we should be able to weather the village’s first winter.
While thinking about such things, someone approached me to give a report.
“Luke-sama, two men have arrived in the village.”
“Are they refugees?”
“No, they don’t seem like that.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, but they didn’t seem suspicious either. So, for the meantime, we allowed them to approach and wait at the entrance of the village.”
“I see. Thank you for your work.”
And so, I headed to the entrance to meet them.
When I arrived, I saw two men who were both nervously looking around.
One of them seemed to be over the age of 50, while the other seemed to be around 30 years old.
Their faces looked alike, so it seemed possible to me that they were related.
“Ahm, hello, I am Luke. I’m this village’s chief.”
The older of the two hurriedly knelt down to the ground and bowed his head.
Seeing this, they younger one followed suit.
“W-we are from a village in the south called Mao. I am its village chief, Mack. And this here is my son, Manta.”
South? So, somewhere from the Albert territory?
“If…if you don’t mind my asking, are you perhaps Luke-sama, the son of Lord Albert?”
“You know me?”
“Oh, so it is you! We’ve heard something about Lord Albert giving you the task of developing this wasteland. But from the looks of things, I’m guessing development efforts have begun a considerably long time before that.”
“Nope, it wasn’t like that. There was completely nothing when I arrived here.”
He looked at me as though he was utterly confused.
I just told him the truth though.
“Then, then, were you sent here to be exiled? I heard you got a useless Gift. Is that true…?”
“Hoi! Watch your…”
“No, it’s alright. It’s actually as your son says.”
I briefly explained to them what transpired.
That I was unable to inherit my father’s [Sword Master Techniques], but my brother was.
That I was sent here to be exiled in all but name.
That somehow or another, I was able to build a village here.
“But enough about me. What brings the two of you all the way out here?”
“Well, to be honest…”
It was my turn to listen to their story.
The older of the two told me about the present state of the Albert territory and how that gave rise to their village’s crisis.
Perhaps because their story contained heavy criticism about the lord of the land—my father—they seemed to have trouble speaking at first. At this point, I was pretty much no longer part of my noble house, so I told them to speak candidly. In the next moment though, the frustrations that the older man were keeping in came flooding out.
“Even if you win wars and expand your territory, we gain nothing by it! So, why then, must you impose these merciless taxes on us!? It’s not like you plan to improve our lives at any point! You don’t think about your subjects at all!”
Wow, he really has a lot of pent-up frustrations.
I thought so to myself as he spoke. At the end, his face fully red, he even let out a scream.
The son probably thought that was too much to show the lord’s son despite my permission to speak candidly, so he kept glancing at me, all worried.
“Ahm…please forgive my father!”
When the scream came, the son apologized on his father’s behalf.
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