The Orphanage — Part 3
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
The sizzling of fat dripping onto an open flame filled my ears and the delicious scent of roasted meat wafted through my surroundings. Laughter filled the air as the crowd passed around a bunch of booze. The alcohol was a recent addition that someone had brought along just for the occasion. There was even a bard present, and he had started singing one of the songs he’d claimed was his best. His performance caused the people around him to clap and cheer with glee. Although not all of the children had finished eating, those that had been satiated were running around and happily playing a game of tag.
Likewise, I was also enjoying myself. I went back and forth between the drunks and the kids. I’d eat with the former group and play with the latter. The only one that seemed even the slightest bit troubled by the current situation was the hero. I couldn’t really tell exactly whose fault it was, but it was definitely either mine or the kids’, as she was diligently trying her best to watch over them all to make sure they didn’t get hurt.
Carlotta and the director were sitting a bit off to the side. The first of the two was watching Nell with a wry smile, while the latter was regarding the entire situation with a full-faced open expression of happiness. Her orphanage had become a symbol of felicity. The atmosphere around it was so full of joy that it almost made it seem like the capital wasn’t in such dire straights after all.
Observing the situation reminded me that humans could only truly be open, social, and happy if their most basic needs were satisfied. Food was a must. All living things needed it to well, live. Those that hadn’t any of it would have to fight amongst themselves for scraps or challenge those that did, lest they wanted to risk leaving the mortal plane. And that was why the capital’s citizens had been keeping to themselves. It’s pretty hard to have a big heart on an empty stomach, after all.
“Tag! You’re it Mr. Mask!” A nearby kid tapped me on the back. He quickly ran off as quickly as he’d come.
“Oh no! Well, then I guess I better catch someone!” I said. I quickly approached the hero and plopped a hand down on her shoulder. “Well Nell, that’s a tag. You’re it.”
“Huh!? Wait, I’m playing too!?”
“Alright everyone! Make sure you run away from Nell unless you want her to catch you!”
The children screamed joyfully and scattered throughout the orphanage’s yard. Although she kept her troubled smile on at first, the hero eventually relaxed and started to warm up to the idea. “Come back here so I can catch you!”
Soon, she too was amongst the ranks of those frolicking about in the yard.
That, unfortunately, was when our little luncheon turned party was interrupted.
A group of four soldiers had appeared at one end of the impromptu venue and began pushing their way through the crowd.
“What’s going on here!?” the man who appeared to be the group’s leader shouted. “Weren’t you told that all your extra food was supposed to go to the country!?”
All the noise the crowd was making died down immediately, as if it had never existed to begin with. The mood took an instant turn for the worse. Everyone was possessed by a sudden wave of gloom. Their despondency was laced with anger, as most of the people in the crowd had their eyes narrowed into hateful glares.
Despite the fact that they had countless sets of angry eyes on them, the soldiers didn’t seem to mind. They simply ignored them and continued heading straight towards the center of all the commotion, the orphanage. Goddamn. They give no fucks. You know, I’m almost impressed. You gotta have balls to be that bold. Like shit, talk about mental fortitude.
“I can’t believe this. How could all of you do this? We’re fighting so hard for this country’s sake, your sake, yet you guys don’t share all this good food with us.” The soldier frowned and tried to look as pitiful as he could. Unfortunately for him, he was a terrible actor, and there wasn’t a soul in the crowd willing to sympathize with him to begin with. Everyone present wore their hatred on their sleeves. “Well? Which one of you is the rebel that decided to hide all this food from the crown?”
I put my foot forward to confront the man, but Carlotta stepped out in front of me before I could announce my presence.
“Rebel? That’s quite the accusation. This is prey that I hunted myself. I’m free to do whatever I want with it, aren’t I?”
I gave her a dubious stare, to which she responded with a quick glance before turning back towards the soldiers. I could tell that she was telling me to just leave things to her.
Unlike Carlotta, who looked calm and relaxed, the hero was on guard. Her expression was grim, and she had naturally taken a stance that would allow her to draw her weapon at any given moment.
“Of course not,” scoffed the soldier. “Alshir, our glorious capital city, is in the midst of a food crisis. A food crisis! It’s something that we, its people, all need to join hands to overcome. We’re all in this together. We can’t just have people like you gorging themselves while everyone else suffers.”
“We’re all in this together, are we?” Carlotta raised an eyebrow. “Then why haven’t I seen any evidence of the military distributing food to the people?”
“Don’t ask me, I’m just a soldier. There’s no way I would know anything about rationing out food. All I can tell you is that we’ve received an order from the crown, and that the order is to confiscate any extra food so we can turn it into supplies,” said the soldier with an obnoxious grin. “So we’ll be taking everything here. I’m sure you’ve all already had your fill.”
The crowd immediately began to jeer. Shouts of “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” and “Screw you assholes! You don’t give two shits about us!” resounded throughout, but it didn’t last for long. The soldier in charge shut everyone up with a nasty glare.
“Still not satisfied? Well, how about this.” He looked Carlotta up and down with a vulgar gaze, licked his lips, and continued. “You may be dressed like a knight, but with a body like that, you’d be more suited to being a whore. How about this. We’ll be nice. We’ll let you come with us and even have a bit more food. If you let us share you with everyone we feed, that is.”
The leader broke into a hearty laugh, one his minions promptly joined in on. Oh great. Now they’re not even trying to hide the fact that they’re total scum.
The knight momentarily narrowed her eyebrows into a death stare, but quickly shook off their provocation. She remained relaxed with her arms folded in front of her chest, likely because she knew that they were just trying to bait her, and that taking action would only make things worse.
Man, the hell is wrong with these people? Aren’t they supposed to be soldiers? You know, people responsible for protecting the country? All I see is a group of thugs. Wait, right! I totally forgot. The church is under surveillance. Its every move is being monitored. That probably means that this whole thing is just a ruse. They must have sent these obnoxious, poorly disciplined morons our way in response to the whole banquet thing we had going. This is probably just their way of instigating an incident. They sent these aggravating douchebags our way for that exact reason. They want us to kill them so they can use it to fuel some sort of political move. If that’s the case, then there’s probably someone watching over the whole scenario, someone responsible for reporting back to HQ…
I promptly checked the map for anyone that happened to match my criteria. Bingo. There’s a guy in one of those back alleys over there. He’s acting all sneaky like, but he’s definitely staring right at us.
I had figured out the enemy’s trap. As well as a solution. I was free to eliminate the thugs so long as I first dispatched the observer. There was no reason not to do exactly that. My decision was made, and I was about to act upon it.
But then, it happened.
One of the soldiers accidentally bumped into a little girl whilst laughing at his boss’ joke.
“Nooo! My stew!”
The sudden force caused her to drop her bowl, whose contents were promptly spilt all over the man and his armour.
“Tsk.” The man clicked his tongue. “Goddamn you, you stupid brat!”
It was all his fault. He was the one that bumped into her. But he didn’t care. The sorry excuse for a soldier did the unthinkable. He drew his blade, raised it overhead, and moved to slay the child whose meal he had ruined.
“The fuck!?” My eyes widened. Are you fucking serious? Are these retards seriously taking this shit this far!?
Panic coursed through me. I poured an excess of force into my legs and used it to kick off the ground. I flew through the air with such force that it had almost looked like I had pulled an instant transmission. I appeared in front of the soldier out of nowhere and smashed my fist into the flat of his blade.
There was an audible crack. The sword snapped where I’d hit it, and the tip, which would have taken the girl’s life had I been any slower to react, rolled onto the ground.
“Huh? My weapo-”
My reflexes kicked in before I could process another thought. I twisted my hips and delivered a powerful roundhouse kick. My foot drove itself deep into the soldier’s neck and sent him flying into an area where no one was standing. He promptly collapsed, crumpling into a despondent, crippled heap. Aw crap. I totally just fucked up, didn’t I? God damn it, Yuki. Think before you hit.
“You’ve done it now, you little shit!”
Dumbfuck number two drew his sword and attempted to attack. I had no choice but to do something about it, so I shifted my body slightly and spun around him while delivering yet another spinning kick. It landed in the back of the soldier’s head, instantly incapacitating him.
I glanced to the side and noticed retard number three, who had moved to attack my exposed rear. I took a stance to inform him that I had accepted his challenge, but he was suddenly blown away before I even had a chance to act.
In his place stood Carlotta, who had taken a pose like someone that had just thrown a punch.
“Hmph.” She snorted as she shook off the blood that had gotten onto the back of her arm guard. “A blade is too good for the likes of you.”
“You bastards! How dare you!? You’ll pay for th—” The leader attempted to draw his blade as he yelled, but Nell’s scabbard came in from his blind spot and struck him in the back of the neck before he could so much as finish his rant.
The attack rattled the scumbag’s brain and knocked him out cold. He fell to his knees, before collapsing into a heap on the ground.
“Geez…” she sighed. “Why does everyone have to be so quick to resort to violence?”
Seeing all four soldiers defeated caused the crowd to break into a deafening roar. They cheered with such vigour that the very air seemed to tremble in response.
I wanted to join them and loose a shout as I took a victory pose. But now wasn’t the time. “Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you guys to take care of things over here. Make sure you give the girl they attacked an extra bowl of stew.”
“Huh? Wait, where are you going?” The hero asked.
“They had a fifth on standby just watching over the situation, but he just took right the hell off. I’mma go take care of him before this whole situation spirals outta control.”
The observer had wall jumped onto the roof of a nearby building and then started running hopping from rooftop to rooftop in order to make his way back to what I assumed would be some sort of superior. Wait a second. The hell is up with his moves? Is he supposed to be some sort of ninja or something?
I figured I had explained enough, so I kicked off in the wannabe ninja’s direction without another word.
Editor’s note (Joker): Hey, guys! Joker here. Man, leave it up to the freakin’ soldiers to come in and ruin everyone else’s day. However, looks like Carlotta was trying to keep them calmed down, but trying to attack that little girl just crossed the line. Now the people supporting the prince are going to find out what kind of dragon they pulled the tail of. If I was Yuki, I’d just go to the prince, change my title to “Supreme Dragon’s Owner” and watch him urinate himself until he dies from dehydration. That would be amusing to watch, if a bit smelly. All right, only one letter in the Sack today. Understandable, since it was a double upload. So big thanks to Cielitojeff for your question. Remember, if you’ve got something you want me to answer, leave it in the comments below and I’ll answer. See y’all very soon for the next chapter!