“Could you do me a favour, sweetheart? Go to the other side of town and check up on the granary for me, will you?”, that was the task given to me by Eva.
Sakaki was tasked to check up on the meat stores, so I agreed to help her.
… That is when I realised something. This town is anything but small. I would think that with the walls around its perimeter, it would be a rather small town. I’ve been walking for an hour now, though, at my own pace which is rather slow. The surroundings around the pathway are filled with foliage that I have not seen before. From small flowers that are in clusters to an odd tree that looks like it should be in a coastal area instead of inland. I took my time breathing the fresh air as I walk towards my destination.
As I continue to walk, something came into view. A brick house painted white, it looks like a mini-mansion. I wonder who owns that.
Is it some fat politician’s holiday home?
Or is it the granary?
Or maybe it’s abandoned.
Looks like it’s abandoned based on the chipped white paint and almost-broken down fencing.
As I get closer to the building, I start hearing children’s laughter. That’s weird, why are they playing in such a remote location.
“May I help you, miss?” a voice from behind me asked as I was observing the children playing around.
I turn around to see a middle-aged woman about the same height as me. Hiding behind her is a girl of around 4 years old.
“Surprising to see anyone on this remote part of town isn’t it?” the middle-aged woman continued.
“That building over there is an orphanage. The kids there were victims of the famine. They lost their family and was taken in by me.”
“So you are running the orphanage?”
“Yes. I was born rather fortunate. Being able to marry into the family of a well-known elite. But as time went on, and the famine worsening, I decided to open this orphanage to take in children who are unfortunate enough to live through this era of our generation’s failure.”
There are people, even within the elites, who are against the collectivisation policy. They can’t do a thing, however, because it is already in place. The government will see this through to the end.
“Come on, introduce yourself.” She said as she nudges the girl that was hiding behind her. “Pardon her, she’s very bashful.”
I bent down to her eye level and smiled, “I’m Karen Tomach. Nice to meet you.”
The girl’s eyes widened before looking down at the ground and stepping out to show herself.
“I-I’m Iris.” She said in a soft, shy voice, it’s very cute. “Nice to meet you.”
I noticed that her skin color is not of this region, much fairer than the locals. Her hair is blonde, like me. Her eye color, black.
“Yes, she’s not from around here.” Said the middle-aged woman. She must’ve thought of the same thing as me. “I found her exhausted outside of town.”
“And her parents?”
“Nowhere to be found. They’re probably killed by bandits. Iris told me that she ran for a long time. But she don’t want to talk about anything when I asked.”
Poor girl… I pat Iris on the head and stood up.
“Are you hearing towards the granary?” the middle-aged woman asked.
“Good luck with the hunting.”
I nodded and start walking. After a few steps, Iris called out to me “E-excuse me!”.
“M-miss Karen!” Iris shouted at the top of her lungs to get my attention. I was just a few meters away. “Are you a Karma?”
That question took me by surprise. A four-year-old would normally not know what a Karma is, less being interested in one.
The middle-aged woman doesn’t look surprised.
“My, you’re interested in her?” the middle-aged woman asked.
“Mhm…” Iris replied.
“Why don’t you take her out for a little walk?” the middle-aged woman asked me.
Iris ran towards me and grabbed onto the sleeve of my Haori tightly.
“Don’t cause her too much trouble, okay, Iris?” the middle-aged woman told her.
Iris nodded and we start walking, continuing my stroll to the granary.