464 The Changes
Chapter 464: The Changes
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Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
Many people came for the second meal. Luckily, the three of them had arrived early and were able to secure a position at the front.
When Snaketooth joined the queue, he realized why the fences were built around the wooden stage. There was a speaker chattering about the new policy. He would probably have to keep listening to him until he got his oatmeal.
The crowd moved forward slowly. After waiting for half an hour, he finally reached the back of the wooden stage.
"Give me your right hand." A guard said.
Snaketooth followed the instruction, and the guard stamped the back of his hand.
The wooden fence extended on both sides to encircle a large area, but the queuing still continued. Everyone was guided by a guard to take a wooden bowl, receive the oatmeal, go and eat on the side, and then return their bowl. It was hard to believe that ordinary civilians and Rats could be this orderly.
Snaketooth looked at the long queue behind him and felt that this whole thing was absurd. It was as if they were in a solemn ceremony instead of begging for charity.
"What did he stamp on our hands?" Tigerclaw stuck his head out from behind. "I can't wipe it off."
"It's probably meant to prevent us from joining the queue again after we finish our oatmeal," he said with a frown.
Tall tents were set at the perimeter of the empty space, and he could see through the shadows that there were many busy people inside. Heavy wooden barrels were being moved to the long wooden table beside the fence, and it was obvious that the food had just been cooked. As he watched the steaming porridge flow into his bowl, his hands could not help but tremble.
How long had it been since he had a hot meal?
The oatmeal was watery and did not come with vegetables or condiments, but just the golden porridge and its overflowing aroma was enough to make him salivate. Compared with black bread, which contained stones and husks, the food in his bowl made him feel warm again.
Tears were starting to collect in his eyes again.
Snaketooth finished the oatmeal quickly despite how hot it was and licked the bowl clean. Although he wished he could go back and beg for another bowl, he finally dispelled the idea after he saw the surveillance guards. He put the wooden bowl into the designated pot and followed the crowd to exit the fenced area.
There was another wooden stage at the exit, and the speaker was answering questions from the public enthusiastically.
After eating some warm food, the howling wind did not seem as cold as before, and the three of them slowly followed the crowd to the wooden stage.
"You asked why His Royal Highness distributed the oatmeal? That’s a good question!" the man said excitedly. "It's because His Highness is determined to eliminate the Rats. Those who are menaced by Rats and those who are forced to comply with the Rats for food can be completely liberated and no longer subject to their threats! At the same time, he did this so that the families that don't have enough food storage can survive the harsh times! This is His Highness' benevolence!"
"You said earlier that the oatmeal would only be provided till the end of Months of Demons, so what happens after that?" someone asked loudly.
The scene suddenly quieted as the people eagerly awaited the answer. Snaketooth also listened attentively.
"It’s simple! You can support yourselves!" the speaker said with a smile.
"But I don't know how to farm."
"Could you please explain, sir?"
"Don't worry, let me explain to you slowly!" He waved his hand. "After the Months of Demons, Longsong Stronghold and Border Town will merge to form a new city, so the empty areas in between will require a lot of you to reclaim and reconstruct! Only hard work can create wealth, and only hard work can change destiny! You’ll have a stable salary, and the money you earn will support you and your family! At the same time, His Highness promised that those who officially have a job will be accepted as citizens of the new city."
His words stirred a wave in the crowd, and Snaketooth felt his heartbeat speed up.
"Yes, I know what you are thinking," said the speaker loudly. "Many of you are Rats, or citizens forced to become Rats. It doesn't matter. You can work for a new life. You no longer have to live in the dark underground, and you don't have to worry about being sent to the gallows. You can rely on your own hands to earn legitimate rewards, whether it’s food, clothing, or even shelter!"
"Sir… do we only need to be willing to work?"
He smiled and nodded. "In the future, His Highness will need more than 10,000 people, so… yes, as long as you are willing to work."
Snaketooth suddenly understood something.
During the next few days, the three of them went to the Central Square for oatmeal at noon every day. More and more citizens heard the news and came to the distributions, until they occupied almost half of the square. Of course, some people didn't go for the food. They just wanted to witness the end of the Black Street Rats.
It looked like there was a festival going on in Stronghold every day.
After the oatmeal was done being distributed at noon, there would be trials and executions on the other end of the square.
As the woman in the white robe had said, none of the Rats could escape their arrest. Snaketooth saw Kanas in one of the trials. His face was pale as he knelt and trembled on the scaffold, no longer domineering like before.
Then, as the iron pipe roared, his head was smashed into pieces.
Apart from Kanas, Snaketooth also heard the names of many other big figures among the Rats.
These included Bloodyhand, Ironcrow, Ripper… they had all been fierce kings in Black Street. Their appearances were not much better than Kanas. Every death of a Rat king was met with warm cheers and chants of "Long live His Highness".
On the fourth day, Snaketooth saw Joe, looking completely recovered. The four of them hugged each other excitedly.
"Where have you been?"
"I don’t know," Joe shook his head. "My mind was obscured at the time. When I woke up I was lying in a tent, and my head didn’t hurt anymore. I only ate and slept until the fever came down. There were quite a few patients like me in there, drinking oatmeal with dried meat. I ate so much the first time that I almost swallowed my tongue."
"Is there such a good thing?" Tigerclaw stared and said, "Damn, I want to be infected with the cold plague!"
"Anyway, it’s good you survived," Sunflower said gladly.
After everyone was done catching up, Snaketooth suddenly said, "I want to look for a job after the Months of Demons."
"Perhaps those nobilities are just fooling us, and there’ll be additional requirements," Tigerclaw said. "When they recruited the new Second Army and police members, they asked for a fixed address and a clean record, which means no stealing. So we aren't even in their consideration."
Snaketooth shook his head and did not answer. The things in the bulletin were gradually becoming a reality, and he realized that the "new city" was possibly beyond his imagination. In these few yet long days, he had already felt a change.
If the speaker was telling the truth, would he be able to stay in the new city? If he could get rid of his Rat identity, would Paper feel less embarrassed if he saw her again?