A new chapter of SN
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Samurai NOT 31
There are lots of battle in this region, the boy thought as he helped another child stripped a dented armor from one of the many dead bodies.
It took a while but they finally finished. As he placed the pieces on the shabby and wobbly cart, he looked around. Though it hadn’t been a bloody battle like the last one, it was still a gruesome sight.
The dead were mostly in the middle of the battlefield, and by the number of soldiers bearing the same crest in some part of the armor, only one side had suffered many casualties. This was a trap, the boss had said when he saw the scene.
“Hey, Tō. Hurry up and cut that,” the other boy complained as they moved on to the next soldier.
Tō was the name the scavengers had given the boy. According to them, it means ‘sword’ or ‘blade’, which the boy never let it go no matter where he went. They allowed him to keep the new one, and even had given him a scabbard, which he tied to his back. He was too short to place it on his waist.
The boss didn’t like the name, but since the boy himself didn’t seem to care, he stopped complaining, and even started using after a while.
The boy had no fondness nor dislike regarding his new name. He just answered to it because it was easier than answering boy, you, him or brat all the time.
Since he couldn’t rip the leather strip holding down the armor, he used the knife the scavengers had given him. As he pulled the blade, he felt a pair of eyes glaring at his back. Without looking, the boy knew it was Tokage.
According to one of the kids, the older boy was interested in the knife as well. His old one was dull and barely cut even a fruit. But the boss had given to him for work instead. The boy suspected Tokage would try to get it, but so far he hadn’t done anything besides glare with rage.
Even with the rules the boss had set, the boy knew those were the eyes of someone who would attack him whenever they had the chance, even if meant getting kicked out from the scavengers. That was why the boy always slept with his sword in hands and with a tree against his back.
Apart from Tokage, the scavengers group wasn’t bad. In the past few weeks, the boy had gone less hunger and even laughed sometimes while they talked around the fire.
True, some still looked at him with fear due to what he had done to Tokage. Others regarded him with indifference, talking to him whenever they had, though apart from when they were working, there wasn’t a lot to talk about.
A few, however, especially the young ones, had got close enough to the boy. One of those was the kid before him. He was the kid with the same height as him who was with Tokage on the battlefield. His name was Mosuke and was the youngest in the group until the boy showed up, even though he himself had no idea how old he was.
The scavenger life wasn’t so bad. Since the region had a lot of opposing nobles’ houses too close to each other, there were always skirmishes happening nearby. Every other week they found a battlefield to strip anything decent enough to sell and get some food. When there wasn’t any battle, they hunted.
In either case, they had to be fast; they weren’t the only group of scavengers in this region. More than once they were late and had to leave empty-handed. Sometimes, they arrived there just after another group. Depending on the other side, they could share the field or they left without fighting. Life is hard already. There’s no need to make it even harder, said the boss when it happened.
The worse, however, was a particulary violent group. It only had happened twice, but even though they were first, that group kicked them out, threatening to use force or kill them all during the night.
Since the boss any kind of fight at all cost, both times it happened, they left when that happened, and even let the other group have what they had already scavenged.
Some didn’t agree with his way. Tokage in special, but most seemed used to the boss’s way.
Even though the boy understood the boss’ reason, he too agreed with Tokage. Seeing everything they scavenged with a lot of work left behind for others left him with a bitter feeling.
“I think this is all we can get from here,” said the boss at some point. They had been on the battlefield working since the sun was up. He pointed to a few people. “You lot help me get this to the blacksmith. With this all, and with a bit of luck, we’ll have enough money for the next week. The others, you know what to do. Go back and check the traps if we got any animals. The raining season is almost here and the lords usually avoid fighting.”
The boy was glad he wouldn’t go with the boss. The first time he went, he barely understood what the bearded man was negotiating and simply stood there, bored.
Every piece of metal, leather, clothes and anything else they could get was negotiated with the villagers close by, with the rare travelers who risked going through that area or the blacksmiths at castles and fortresses. They didn’t make a lot of money since most of their goods had gone through hard battles, but it was enough for the whole group to go by without feeling hungry all the time.
Overall, life was better for the boy. Between the battles, if their hunt was good enough, sometimes they managed to buy some rice. That was his favorite part. He had no idea when it was the last time he ate rice, but even if it was little, it was delicious.
“Come. Let’s check if we caught anything. I’d love some rabbit meat right now,” Mosuke said as they headed back to their camp, making sure there was no one following them. It was another one of the boss’ rules, one everyone followed without uttering a complaint.
To their delight, the traps Mosuke set up had caught a few delicious looking rabbits. His mouth was almost watering as he killed the animals
The boy’s traps, however, were as he had left it at the beginning of the day; empty and untouched. No, the bait he had set was gone. Though it was crude compared to Mosuke, it should have caught at least one.
“Cheer up, Tō. You’ll get there someday,” Mosuke said with a cocky smile, slapping him on the back in a friendly way.
The boy said nothing, but seeing that smile annoyed him. I’ll learn and then get more rabbits than him, he promised himself.
“That’s amazing, Mosuke!” one of the old women who took care of the food said when she saw the rabbits. Despite missing a few teeth, the boy liked when she smiled, though he had no idea why. “With the fish we caught earlier, we might have a feast tonight.”
As everyone rested after a long and hard day, the boss came back with even better news; they had gotten more money they expected and even bought millet.
Though he preferred rice, it was still a delicious meal. But the best part was all the noise. Those around him talked, sang, and enjoyed each other’s company.
The boy couldn’t help but smile.
That night, for the first time, he didn’t sleep clutching his sword.
Thanks for reading.
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