Chapter 9: The Cashew Region (2)
After finishing the negotiations with Selbek, I decided to first change clothes in the room assigned to me.
I took my dress off and slipped my arms through the clothes I had tailored.
It was a black jacket with a large collar. It was a type of jacket that I had not seen three years ago. It’s said to be recently made and in fashion in Hurion, a large country in the west. It is quite presentable with gold embroidery on the cuffs and collar.
The chest is embroidered with bell orchids in white.
The bottom is a pair of white pants. They stick snugly to my skin and show the shape of my legs, but they won’t get in the way when riding a horse. I also wear black boots and a light, slim sword at the waist to complete the outfit. Everything was custom-made. Since there’s no military uniforms for women, they had to be but when I looked at the soldiers, I could tell what the deputy had in mind.
When I go out into battle, I plan to wear custom-made chain mail and chest armor on top of this, but for today, this will do.
When I stepped outside in my military gear, I found the soldiers prepared by the deputy lined up in the square.
After a very cordial discussion, Selbek had promptly granted my request and gave me twenty soldiers, three war horses, and a small wagon. He also provided me with three explosive magic stones filled with magical power.
But when I looked at the soldiers, I could tell what was in the mind of the deputy.
The soldiers were all young and had poor physiques. They were all Fresh recruits gathered this year.
However, I was not going to complain about this injustice. I had threatened him. I don’t expect him to willingly lend me his elite troops.
Besides, this is fine. New recruits with no habits, a blank slate. It is my job to first train them and turn them into full-fledged soldiers.
Let’s get them motivated first.
“As you’ve probably heard, we are going to form a subjugation team to wipe out the monsters that are running amok around the territory. I intend to have you work to your heart’s content.”
When I first spoke up, a few chuckles escaped from each of them.
“Why would we do such a thing? Your Prince, or rather the Prince who abandoned you, will take care of them.”
A cocky-looking young man had spoken up, and laughter escaped from everyone around.
Laughing at nobility can be troublesome, but I have no intention of pretending to have cheap pride.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Al. Miss?”
A young man of about twenty years or so replies.
“Al, you sure are taking your time aren’t you?”
It was a little disconcerting to see how relaxed one could be in the middle of nowhere.
“When did you say that the subjugation army led by the Prince was coming?”
“I’m asking when is it coming?”
Al was at a loss for words, so I answered for him.
“The answer is that it will never come. There is no way that the Royal Capital would send its soldiers to defend such a remote frontier.”
There is no doubt that the royal capital will form a subjugation force, but these will be used to defend trade routes and major cities. There’s no way they’d be sent to such a remote region as Cashew.
“They’d laugh at you for being so naive.”
Al frowned at being called naive by such a young girl, and this put the soldiers in a bad mood, but they should be more impatient.
“I may be younger than you, but I think I know more about the horrors of the Demon King’s army than any of you here. I’ve traveled with the Prince and seen it. The villages and towns that were destroyed by the Demon King’s army are nothing short of disastrous.”
It’s a sight that makes my heart ache just remembering it.
The survivors lost their homes and fields and had to flee and wander around in the wilderness. They had no money, so they couldn’t enter the city, and their only options were to freeze, starve, or die of disease.
But even they would be considered lucky. There are no words to describe the misery of those killed by the Demon King’s army and monsters.
The Demon King’s army either enslaves the people they capture or beat them to death. Demons even eat humans alive. I can still hear the sound of a strong man crying out, “Stop, don’t eat me!”
The soldiers lost their voices as I told them of the horrors I’ve witnessed at the war front.
It was probably a bit harsh for the new recruits who had been recruited this year. When I first saw the spectacle myself, I was sleepless for days and vowed to defeat the Demon King as soon as possible.
I went along with the prince and his women only out of concern for those who had been killed and those who might be killed in the future.
“Al is right, the Prince will soon form an army to defeat them. But what do you think will be the result?”
I don’t think the Prince will be able to fight well.
However, with the Demon King defeated and supply routes cut off, the Demon King’s army is unable to maintain its strength. No matter how much effort it takes, the subjugation army should be able to pick up a win in the end.
“Their home country is in the Demon Continent across the sea, and there are no ships to return to. The remnants of the Demon King’s army that were defeated by the subjugation force would be unable to flee back to their home country and would instead spread out in all directions at once, becoming warlords in various places and attempting to establish their own country. Naturally, these outlying areas will be prime targets. The damage may be minimal at the moment, but they will surely come. No one can say for sure that it won’t be your home.”
I pointed out the reality of what is sure to come in the near future to the soldiers, and they looked down.
Their minds must have been filled with thoughts of their families and loved ones back home.
“I am not asking you to fight for the kingdom or for me. You should fight for your home.”
The look in some of the soldiers’ eyes change. The fire ignites inside of them. They realized they must defend their homes on their own. Most, however, remained downcast. As new recruits with no combat experience, they probably don’t believe they can fight and win against the Demon King’s army or monsters.
It is only natural, given our survival instincts. So let’s tickle that instinct.
“I have no intention of using you for free, even if it is to protect your hometown. I have a reward in mind.”
I took out a leather bag I had brought with me and pulled something out from it.
With a small cheer, forty eyes are drawn to my fingertips.
The golden object I picked up was a shiny, polished gold coin.
It was a gold coin given to me by my father as preparation money for my stay here. It was a large gold coin used by the nobility to pay taxes to the state.
“You can live well off for three years with just one of these coins.”
Along with a startled voice, I heard the sound of saliva being swallowed.
Twenty people stared at the gold coin with single-minded devotion.
“I’ll reward you according to your work. If you make a big name for yourself, this gold will be yours.”
The soldiers were agog at my words.
Gold is a strange thing. It is nothing more than a beautiful metal, but it pulls the hearts of many people.
When I waved the gold coin from side to side as if to show it off, everyone’s eyes followed it back and forth in unison.
I grabbed as many gold coins as I could from the bag and showed them off. Then, to give a better view, I held the coins as close to the tip of their noses and went around showing each one of them.
This way, they say, they can smell the gold.
Of course, gold has no smell, but it is important to make people smell it with their hearts.
A merchant I had met on a previous trip had used this technique.
He was the worst kind of merchant who would do anything for money. However, he was skilled in influencing people.
According to him, no one can remain unmoved by money or threats.
These were the words of a man obsessed with gold. And to some extent, they may be true. In fact, the eyes of the soldiers had clearly changed.
The cause of protecting their hometown and the magical power of gold.
Justice alone is not enough to move people, and greed makes people fragile at critical moments. The combination of the two, however, is a force to be reckoned with.
At last, I was able to unite and motivate the soldiers, but this was only the second step.
The next step was the actual battle.
I had planned up to this point. But from here on out, I’m not sure what can and will happen.
I don’t know if I will be able to pull this off.
But I have no choice. It is the only way to save my people.