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After Story: The Image of the Saint from Here On (Last Part)
Alfrea was lost.
She was still fine when she got attracted by a bar while she was moving around in the carriage, but even before she could reach said bar, she got lost.
Moreover, she didn’t take note of the path she’d walked through so she couldn’t return either.
The royal capital of the Billberry Kingdom was quite large.
It was because most of the population was concentrated in the royal capital. As such, there wasn’t any need to distribute troops to remote regions.
In that large city, Alfrea was looking around like a hick who was entering a city for the first time.
As she looked around at each building, she raised her voice with an impressed tone.
Compared to her era, the present age seemed more backward.
Due to the threat of Witches and demons, which had lasted for over a thousand years, the number of humans had decreased. And with this decline also followed a decrease in the range of human activity throughout that time as well.
Elrise managed to end that tragedy which had lasted over a thousand years, and with the demons no longer in sight, the land and nature revived… However, even Elrise was unable to completely heal humanity’s wounds.
The decrease in human population due to that long battle couldn’t be restored; the only way to do so was to let people give birth and raise their children, something which would continue across several generations.
But even in such an era, the sturdiness of the buildings alone was definitely superior when compared to those Alfrea’s era.
In a world where demons might attack at any moment, the sturdiness of buildings and their walls was of utmost importance.
Therefore, all the buildings of the royal capital looked very good to Alfrea.
“Huh? I smell something sweet… what is it?”
She could smell a sweet scent that whet her appetite even from a distance and, without hesitation, Alfrea headed there.
About twenty seconds later, the knights who were searching for her passed by, but unfortunately, she wasn’t there anymore.
She would have been secured if only she’d endured the temptation for just another twenty seconds. What an easily tempted Saint.
When Alfrea got to the source of the smell, there were several men and women eating something she had never seen before.
This food had an oval shape and purple skin, and inside of it was a filling with a golden yellow color.
Nearby was a box filled with magically heated stones, and there was the source of her temptation, still rolling on the top of the box.
The people there were eating the food with much gusto for some time, but soon noticed Alfrea’s fervent gaze and stopped eating.
When one of them moved their hand that carried that food, Alfrea’s gaze seemed to be chasing after it.
For some reason, they seemed to see a dog tail on Alfrea despite the fact that she didn’t actually have one.
“…A-h… want one?”
“I want it!”
That dog tail seemed to shake to the brim… at least that was how they felt it.
Of course, it was just an illusion. Alfrea had no tail after all.
As Alfrea approached the group, the freshly baked food was passed to her, and Alfrea immediately bit into it vigorously.
“Idiot! You’re not supposed to eat aggressively like that!”
“…But it’s so sweet! Delicious! What is this?”
Alfrea was surprised by the heat because she ate it so fast, but then she was surprised by the sweetness this new food.
It had a different sweetness than that of fruit. For a brief moment, it gave off the sweetness that reminded Alfrea of the snack that Elrise had made.
At Alfrea’s question, the man answered proudly for some reason.
“This food is called sweet potato, jou-chan. It’s a new kind of potato that Elrise-sama cultivated and spread recently. Until recently, we commoners didn’t have the opportunity to taste sweet food, but once this food increased in production, we could now have sweet food as well. It really is something we commoners appreciate.”
“’Don’t have the opportunity, you say… What about fruit?”
“…I assumed from the quality of clothes you wore, but… you must have come from a good family, right? Fruits are luxury goods that we commoners are unable to easily get.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Rather, it only became a luxury item recently, so it’s not like it’s impossible for commoners to get one, but not long ago, it was something that only people in power could eat.”
It seemed that the man thought of Alfrea as a naïve young lady, though he was astonished by the degree of her naivety.
By the way, Alfrea currently wore the white dress for Saint. However, seeing as nobody linked her clothing to her identity and position as a Saint, it showed that even though Elrise already retired, the society still had a strong impression that Saint = Elrise.
…That, or the fact that Alfrea was just too lacking in the dignity department.
“Even if we tried to grow crops, the demons would ruin it in no time, and animals which ran out of food because of demons would also eat the crops before they were ready for harvest. To begin with, It was difficult to grow crops since the land was quite barren. The few crops that were successfully harvested within the walls of capital would have to be a tribute to the people of power.
Nowadays, demons seem to be gone. And with the land restored by Elrise-sama, the harvest is beginning to increase, so gradually it will become less valuable… That being said, it wasn’t something that will happen soon, but more likely in the next decade or two.”
During Alfrea’s era, the Witch was just beginning to rampage so the regions with human activity were much wider, and the number of demons were also fewer in comparison.
Therefore, fruits weren’t considered precious back then.
As a result of the situation that continued to get worse and worse over the thousand years, they arrived at this era, which almost forced humanity to the worst possible outcome.
If not for Elrise appearing in this era, then humanity would’ve probably perished by the era of the next Witch, or the Witch after that.
It would take more time for humanity to truly recover moving forward.
“O-oi, sorry for the wait. I tried to fry some sweet potatoes. Please tell me your impressions.”
“Oh, so it’s finished!”
As they were talking, a man holding a pot approached them.
The pot contained a lot of sweet potatoes that had been cut to suitable sizes and fried.
“This one is the version after being dried for three days. I ate some earlier, but the dried version is quite good.”
“That’s good. If we make a lot of it, it will be a reliable stockpile for the winter. As for the taste… Hou, it is quite good. I guess the kids will be happy.”
The men lined up sweet potatoes that had been processed with various methods and gave their impression.
As Alfrea saw that, she finally wondered what this gathering was for.
“By the way, what are you guys doing here?”
“We’re trying different ways to eat sweet potatoes. It’s a new food with that isn’t that well known yet. That’s why we tried to bake it, boil it, fry it, dry it… we are trying methods we could use to eat sweet potatoes. Elrise-sama might have given us these sweet potatoes, but it is up to us to figure out how to cook it, right? We are sure this food could be more delicious if we process it properly.”
The most important thing in this world was food that was edible and could be stored for a long time.
The taste was secondary. Even if one had the leisure to pursue such a thing, they would choose the method that could make it last a day longer, even if it made said food taste bad. They couldn’t survive otherwise.
But now, the people have gained the time for such things. Thus, they began thinking about things other than storage period and were focusing on culinary pursuits purely for taste.
The group that had gathered here was composed of people who pursued how to cook the sweet potato more deliciously.
“Great, that’s great. Doesn’t that mean there will be more delicious food if all of you do your best?
Good luck, uncles. I will do my best to pray or give blessings for a good harvest or something!”
“Hahahah, ojou-chan. That’s the job of a Saint. But well, thanks anyway. Once we can get a lot of delicious sweet potatoes, we will make sure to put some on the dining table at your house. Just look forward to that.”
“Oh, that’s right. If you don’t mind, take some home. Then ask the people at your home to give their impressions on it.”
Until the end, they only thought of Alfrea as a friendly aristocratic young lady instead of a Saint.
They gave Alfrea some dried and fried sweet potatoes as a souvenir, which Alfrea happily received.
Then she proceeded toward the church, and about fifteen seconds later, one of the guard knights, Finley, appeared there.
“Y-you people! Did you see Saint-sama passing through here?!”
“Saint-sama? No, we didn’t see her?”
They definitely weren’t lying on purpose.
They merely didn’t notice that Alfrea was actually the Saint.
They knew the information that Elrise retired from being a Saint and was succeeded by Alfrea, the First Saint.
However, Elrise’s influence was still so great despite her retirement, so they couldn’t help but imagine that the next Saint was someone similar to Elrise.
There was also the fact Alfrea didn’t introduce herself earlier, so they couldn’t have realized that the woman who was with them less than a minute ago was actually the Saint.
As Alfrea walked a bit, she found people playing with leather balls in the open space.
Apparently, that square was a place for the citizen’s entertainment.
Alfrea watched them for a while, but it seemed there was no particular rule in hitting the ball to each other.
Until a few years ago, everyone was so desperate for survival that they didn’t have the leisure to think of entertainment.
Because of that, the entertainment in this world hasn’t developed much and they didn’t understand how to play… basically, it wasn’t sophisticated.
Then Alfrea stepped to them and spoke out from the side.
“Hey you guys, why don’t you decide on some rules?”
“Rules? Even if you said that… what should we do, for example?”
“How about you divide into teams, and the person who gets hit by the ball has to step out. Then, if a team has their players reduced to zero, that team is defeated.”
“Hou, sounds interesting. Let’s do it.”1
How they played the ball was similar to how children play with snowballs so to speak, and there was no goal of the game.
Because they were so detached from the concept of entertainment, the fact they could play was already exciting for them.
Then Alfrea gave the ball game a goal, which made the game more exciting.
Even without any prize, as long as there was competition, it was normal for humans to seek victory.
Their competitive spirits were stimulated, and the pleasure of victory and the praise from the surrounding people evoked their desire to do it again.
The losing side felt the regret of losing, which stimulated them to try harder to achieve victory.
They quickly became obsessed with this new game, and Alfrea too threw the ball enthusiastically with them.
“Okay, I’ll throw one! Take this!”
She didn’t seem to care about getting her dress dirtied in the process.
After winning and losing many times, Alfrea, who had slipped a few times and was covered with sand, energetically threw the ball to the others.
The opposing team then threw the ball back to her as a payback and she proceeded to catch the ball… or at least, she tried to, but she got scared seeing how fast the ball flew so she evaded at the last moment, making the ball hit her teammate behind instead.
“Oi, nee-chan, that’s terrible of you!”
The man who ended up getting hit by the ball because Alfrea suddenly dodged, reluctantly left the field. Laughter roused as people saw that.
That said, it wasn’t like the man who left the field was angry, as he also seemed to be having fun.
Then hearing the excitement, the knights and the bishop of the church rushed there and saw Alfrea playing with citizens.
“Just when I get relieved that we finally found her, what is she doing?!”
“O-ooh… the dress for the sacred Saint… I-it became that dirty…”
Looking at Alfrea’s current state, the bishop held his head as if he was about to collapse. Noticing that, a knight hurriedly rushed over to support him.
The bishop’s reaction was not unreasonable. After all, Alfrea’s current appearance was clearly different from the image of the Saint that they had kept in mind so far.
Until now, the Saint was a symbol of sacredness that was detached from secular life.
Such an image had been culminated by Elrise’s era, to the point that she became a living object of worship.
Indeed, Elrise was seen as someone who had transcended humanity despite being a human herself.
But what about Alfrea?
She was the opposite… she dashed toward the secular life instead, laughing together with people at the same level as them.
There was no sacred feeling that could be felt from her appearance.
“O-oi, what should we do? Should we stop her? If this keeps up, the dignity of the Saint will…”
When Knight Finley asked, the Prime Knight Rex crossed his arms in thought.
But then, he gave a troubled sigh and shook his head.
“No, let’s wait a little longer.”
“But…the people’s impression of Saint will be…”
“No, I’m sure it’s fine. I’m sure Elrise-sama had already foreseen this and left things to Alfrea-sama to succeed her.”
Finley put on a suspicious expression upon hearing Rex’s words.
Did that mean that the appearance of Alfrea, which seemed to completely destroy the image of traditional Saint, had already been expected by Elrise?
As Finley pondered this, Rex explained his conjecture.
“The Witch is no more. As for the demons… maybe they still exist somewhere, but they already have disappeared from public view. In that case, the expected role for Saint will change.”
“…That’s… that’s right.”
“Even if people seek miracles like they did with Elrise-sama, it would surely be nothing but a burden for all the future Saints.
The Saints were also human like we are… they definitely were not gods.
In that case… things ought to change.
People shouldn’t miracles from Saint, but they ought to walk on their own. People shouldn’t push all burdens to the Saint, but should walk their life together with the Saint.
We shouldn’t seek Saint for everything and merely wait for things to work out.
Basically… well… it might sound bad, but if we drop the high image and expectation of Saint all at once, the next Saint will have an easier time…”
“What you were saying was good until halfway, but the punchline ruined it all.”
To summarize what Rex said, “It would be too much to request a Saint to do the same level of work that Elrise-sama has done, so if we dropped the evaluation of the Saint all at once, nobody would put a heavy burden on the next Saint.”
As bad as it sounded, it was true.
In fact, Eterna, the supposed real Saint of this generation, rejected the position as the next Saint for exactly this reason.
Rex looked ahead and squinted his eyes as if he was seeing something dazzling while watching Alfrea play with the citizens with dirty clothes.
“…Isn’t it good? For the Saint from now on to be a figure like that instead.”
“…I guess so.”
Rex thought while looking at Alfrea, who got hit by the ball and was trying to convince others that earlier hits didn’t count.
Elrise-sama… So you entrusted the future to Alfrea-sama in the consideration of the next generation.
People will become useless if they relied on miracles forever. They will lose the ability to walk on their own.
That’s why you choose a Saint who is not to be the bearer of miracles, but a person who is willing to walk together with people.
This Rex is impressed with Elrise-sama’s wisdom…!
—Needless to say, everything was just Rex’s misunderstanding.
Elrise didn’t think that much before asking Alfrea to succeed her.
And so, their evaluation of Elrise rose despite her not even being there, and another day passed in Fiori.
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“Fruits are luxury goods in Fiori”
Because demons regularly destroyed them, they could only safely grow inside the capitol walls.
Obviously, the yield decreased. Moreover, what little that had been available had been monopolized by aristocrats, so commoners had no chance to get one.
By the way, dried fruits were valuable preserved foods that could be eaten in winter back in the middle ages of Earth, so perhaps that also contributed to people dying out of starvation in Fiori.
In addition, grains and vegetables were naturally damaged by demons, so they had no choice but to grow them inside the capitol walls as well.
Q: What did the small villages do to survive…?
A: They made a fence, guarded it, and did their best to protect their crops. Well, 80% of them failed to protect their crops, and there were those who couldn’t endure until the crop was ready to harvest before eating them all.
Also, even if they managed to harvest the crops, the grain would be taken away as tax by the local lord.
Q: Why didn’t small villages grow fruits?
A: If they had such leisure, they’d plant more grains.
Q: What did the people from small villages eat to survive?
A: Things like millet porridge and salted vegetables. They also slaughtered livestock they didn’t think would survive through winter and turn them into dried and salted meat. They also ate edible mushrooms they gathered. If a villager was picky, they’d die.
As of now, potatoes and sweet potatoes have been added to their menus.
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