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Chapter 30 – Famine desuwa
When the citizens of the empire heard that hordes of black and red grasshoppers were approaching the Lowlet Empire, they trembled in fear, and even though many were thinking that they had to do something, none of them could do anything. The last time such a locust swarm occurred in the Lowlet Empire was 20 years ago, with many ending up suffering direct damage from the attack and also from the famine that came after. And for a few years after that, many died from starvation.
This was one of the reasons this world’s civilization hadn’t advanced despite having reincarnators, with their respective knowledge and wisdom, since the olden days; the damage from the locust swarms periodically reset the progress of civilization. Not only that, but they also caused civilization to slowly regress. The hordes of grasshoppers ate food, people, and even important books, blueprints, clothes, and trees. Things that humankind had accumulated were reduced to nothing.
The red grasshoppers that ate people were especially troublesome, and during the years when their population exploded, so too did the number of casualties. They had a total length of 20 cm which made them the size of rats, and it was very difficult to deal with a horde of grasshoppers of that size. If there was a human child, said child would be eaten down to their bones, and not only that, children were more likely to be targeted since they were easier to hunt.
It was possible to deal with the grasshoppers if there were just a few, but seeing tens of thousands of them approaching would cause terror for anyone who saw them. And if they happened to see red among the horde, they knew they might get devoured whole. Among lords of the Lowlet Empire, some desperately gathered adventurers’ help, some prayed to god, and even some ran in panic.
However, Lydia gave precise instructions as if she was already expecting this to happen, and evacuated people to an underground space that was already built and waiting. Lydia made use of criminals and slaves as forced labor to build a large amount of underground storage in preparation, and Lydia’s vassals who worshiped her also followed her example and applied the same policy.
There were harvested crops (collected as taxes) and whatever small amounts of food people managed to bring with them in the short time before the disaster. With all this available, the citizens who evacuated underground could live there comfortably and the refugees wouldn’t have any particular inconvenience while they were there.
And as for Lydia, she happily jumped toward the flock of red grasshoppers as soon as she spotted them. Mei felt terror when the horde of black grasshoppers came close and escaped to safety, so Lydia, the lord of the territory, was the only person who stood at the forefront to deal with the locust swarm.
The red grasshoppers rushed toward the naked Lydia and bit her. The red grasshoppers (whose teeth were sharper than their black counterparts) tried to pierce her skin with the teeth they were so proud of, but then they wondered why their teeth failed to do anything.
Lydia’s lustrous skin was nibbled by the large grasshoppers’ mouths, and they tried to bite it off, but it didn’t change the fact that the red grasshoppers’ teeth failed to pierce it. There was no blood and no abnormality on her skin. The red grasshoppers were just trying to bite her, moving about Lydia’s skin.
Eventually, the red grasshoppers concluded that Lydia was an inedible object, like a rock, and departed from her body. Lydia, who expected to raise a painful scream due to the pain of being bitten all over, was very disappointed by that outcome and ordered the magic sword to cut down the red grasshoppers as well.
There were only a few individuals that could destroy them, in comparison to the total number in the horde, but through several uses of massive-scale fire magic, tons of grasshoppers were burned to a crisp by Lydia. Some citizens who snuck outside to look at Lydia and the members of the knight brigade who were tasked to guard the outside entrances saw Lydia’s actions from afar, and her figure dealing with the locust swarm while naked felt divine to them.
“Oi! Have you heard?! Lydia-sama said that since the grasshoppers have left, the rest of the food in the warehouse is to be sold back to the people!”
“Moreover, she even created jobs that will be paid with food for those who are unable to afford food. It seems we won’t starve.”
“Lydia-sama has protected the entrance to this city, so everything is okay! Our household goods weren’t eaten by the swarm!”
“To think people won’t starve despite the locust plague occurring… I can’t thank Lydia-sama enough…”
Since Lydia aimed to become a tyrant, she didn’t distribute her stockpiled food for free. Even Lydia knew such an action would have her branded as a saint. However, she sold it at a cost (based on what it was worth before the crisis). Moreover, she even provided a public service occupation that was paid with food. Because of that, Lydia received extremely high praise.
Meanwhile, the surrounding territories had the price of food soar due to the locust swarms, with some territories running out of food altogether. The black grasshopper was edible if grilled, but it had low nutrition and looked disgusting. The locust swarms almost certainly led to famine, followed by riots in search of food, then war.
The wars between lords who hoarded food and their people were especially tragic. However, none of that occurred in the Narorosa Kingdom ruled by Lydia.
Since Lydia is now a king, the empire is technically unable to force her to provide food to them. The closely related people might be able to negotiate for some, but the empire as a whole wouldn’t receive much. Lydia might be able to be forced to provide food for the empire if she is still a duke, but trying that to a vassal kingdom would incite resentment in other vassal kingdoms that likely led to civil war.
Such is the reason why she bought kingship (random theory).
In addition, the harsh part of locust swarms is that while locusts themselves are technically edible, the longer it lasted meant they ate more food, as in, a more poisonous substance, turning them into a lump of venom instead of food. They ate everything in their way, after all, triggering a large-scale famine.
In any age, a ruler who chose to directly clash against such a disaster and managed to prevent the famine is seen as a wise ruler!
Also, the way those grasshoppers nibbled at Lydia made her skin seem elastic yet harder to break than diamond, just like a combination of cheap steak and nata de coco.
If Lydia chose to distribute her food stockpile for free, it would cause large numbers of refugees to rush to her place instead, so her choice was better in the bigger picture.
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