CHAPTER 101 – REMNANTS OF THE ARTOLAS KINGDOM
Today’s lunch was pancakes, pumpkin stew, and goat yogurt.
Arxia’s never had fermented dairy products before. The first time I ate them here I felt like I was eating something extremely “valuable,” but I got used to them after eating them every other day here. Rye is ground into flour and provides batter for the pancakes, and they have a rather plain taste to them. I’m really fond of all this food because none of this type of cuisine can be found in Arxia. If only sugar could be added to this pumpkin stew as well, I’m sure it would gain a delectable sweetness.
During the hustle and bustle of lunchtime, the children around me got to chatting about the schedule for this afternoon.
“Hey hey, did you know that some of our parents are going over to teach the army how to take care of their horses today?”
“Ehh, even I know how to take care of horses!”
“According to Eliza-sama, people in Kaldia don’t raise horses very often. Just like the farmers’ children.”
The farmers’ children that they’re referring to, are the orphaned children left behind by the refugees. Since the farmers’ children have far different lifestyles and work habits from the nomad children, they live in separate tents, as under the current simple tent system that everyone here lives in, it’s impossible for them to live together. While the thought that the farmers’ children would probably need to know about horses for their lifestyles popped into my mind, the Shiru children all nodded in agreement with each other.
“It’s not the same at all. The Kaldia army is King Eliza’s warriors.”
Hearing this, one of the children sitting right behind me sharply raised his voice.
“Those who can’t even become warriors are of a lower class, don’t group them together!”
“Really, are you still going on about that, Athrun?”
The other children all seemed to be tired about whatever this topic was and fell silent as the kid glared around at everyone.
The kid named Athrun was a sullen boy with blue hair who was now looking downwards with a surly expression. While there’s a fleck of shadow in his eyes, there’s still an intense will emanating from his silver-blue irises. He’s one of those that usually doesn’t hang out with me, so I didn’t recognize him. I see, so his name is Athrun.
“By the way, although Athrun’s mother is from the Shiru tribe’s Jugar clan, his father was a farmer.”
The girl sitting next to me explained this to me in a small voice, probably because she noticed my attention was on Athrun. She snuck a surreptitious look at Athrun, then continued whispering to me hesitantly.
“When we started fighting with Densel, Athrun’s father had wanted to become a Jugar clan warrior. But, we only allow those of Shiru heritage to become warriors. So in the end, his father wasn’t allowed to participate in battle, and both his parents were killed by Densel at the refugee camp……”
Well, I definitely think he has quite a sad backstory.
Among the Shiru tribe, there are clear distinctions made between warriors and non-warriors. Those that are made into warriors are given 2 horses each from the Shiru tribe’s common property, and they also receive training in the spear and bow ever since childhood. Although the requirements to become a warrior differ slightly from clan to clan within the Shiru tribe, one thing they all have in common is that they only allow boys from the Shiru tribe to become warriors.
The Jugar clan is a patriarchal clan. Since Athrun’s father wasn’t of Shiru heritage, he wouldn’t be able to become a Shiru warrior no matter how much he wanted to become one.
Now I understand the basics of Athrun’s situation, but there’s still one thing I’m worried about. The girl who had just told me about Athrun was about to return to eating her meal, but I interrupted her to ask a question.
“……He said ‘lower class’ earlier, what exactly does that mean?”
From the flow of the conversation – I guessed that it probably had to do with outsiders to the Shiru tribe, the farmers. However, I don’t feel that there’s such a large gap between the nomads and the farmers to make such a distinction.
In fact, since they’re going to move to Kaldia and live here from now on, the Shiru tribe is going to have to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and take up an agricultural one. They don’t have the luxury of discriminating based on backgrounds against the farmers.
“Ahh…… Um. In the past, the Shiru tribe’s warriors were always considered the ‘King’s Spears,’ the protectors of their chosen king, so it’s more glory and honor than the farmers, that’s what it is, I think.”
Although it seemed like the girl herself didn’t really understand her own explanation too well, I understood her explanation about “lower class” very clearly.
The “King’s Spears” is a term from the former Artolas Kingdom, they represent the nobles, or ruling class of Artolan society. Meaning, social statuses have carried over from Artolas even after its destruction by Densel.
I put down my bowl of pumpkin soup and stood up. From the edge of my vision, I saw the girl who was just talking to me blink in surprise. I didn’t pay her any mind, and I walked up to Athrun.
Since I had suddenly stood up all by myself, of course all the other children gathered their attention on me. Since Athrun was still looking down at the ground, he was the only one that didn’t notice me, until I walked directly in front of him.
At my voice, he snapped his head up. There was great surprise in his silver-blue eyes as he looked at me.
“I happened to hear part of what you were talking about just earlier. What does ‘lower class’ mean?”
All Athrun could do was stand there and nod hesitantly. He seemed to have a confused expression, as if he himself didn’t know why he wasn’t able to answer me.
“I never want to hear you using that term again. The Shiru tribe is now considered to be citizens of Arxia first and foremost, and no longer citizens of Artolas. In Arxia, the Shiru tribe is no different from commoners. All commoners have no distinctions from each other, and are only below the king of Arxia and then the nobility.”
I strongly emphasized the part that there was still someone above the Shiru tribe in rank, while there was no longer anyone below their rank. Although I still wonder if he really understood why I was remonstrating him, he did mutter “I got it” in the end while making aへ shape with his lips.