The funeral was held on a wasteland on the southwest side of Border Town.
It was not appropriate to call it a wasteland. Yet this piece of land that no one cared about was already surrounded by a small fence of rubble, and the wall covered with thick snow. From far, it looked like a silver lining. Although one could cross over with one foot, yet looking at it, Van'er still unwittingly thought of the border city walls - they were the same color, the same shape.
He heard of this ritual from traveling businessmen. When a great noble or member of the royal family member died, the deceased's family would gather at the cemetery, where sad tunes were played and people mourned before the coffin was finally buried underground. The higher the status, the more pompous the occasion would be.
The dead got more attention than the living. He thought enviously at the time. What happened when someone from Border Town passed away? Probably a pit would be dug and filled at the edge of the Misty Forest. Who could know if the demonic beasts would dig out the corpse and eat it during the Months of Demons?
Death was always familiar to the inhabitants of Border Town, especially every winter on the way to seek refuge in Longsong Stronghold. Everyone would cram together in the shacks of the slums. Dying of hunger and cold, or illness and pain, was quite normal. No one had time to be sad. It would make more sense to save this energy to beg for more bread in the city center when the dawn came.
But today, His Highness went so far as to arrange a funeral for a soldier!
It was rumored that the soldier was in the pursuit of a hybrid demonic beast when he was thrown to the ground and had half his head bitten off.
Van'er knew this unlucky guy, who was considered a familiar face at the Old District. He had no name and everyone just called him Ali. He had a wife and two children. The older one was about six years old and the younger barely started walking.
In usual cases, this family would be over. The woman could find another man. But who would be willing to take care of the two children? The two little ones could be stranded on the road so that they could learn to feed themselves. Or the mother would still keep them by soliciting clients at a bar and finally die of a variety of strange diseases.
But His Royal Highness seemed trying to honor his commitment when he recruited the Militia. In case of sacrifices during the war, one would not only receive all the pay, there would also be an additional compensation. What was it called again? Van'er thought, ah... yes, the pension. And this money was worth five gold royals.
In addition, provisions of food and charcoal would be issued every month. This meant that Ali's wife could take care of the two children even if she did not work. Well, these benefits could hardly be counted upon, but the gold royals were undoubtedly real. He saw His Royal Highness place the pensions into the hands of the chief knight, who then transferred it to Ali's wife.
Hell, why did he suddenly feel a little envious of Ali? No, no, Van'er shook his head repeatedly to expel these silly ideas. He did not want his wife to benefit from his death... and she most likely ended up as someone else's wife.
After distributing the money was the address of His Highness. It was very short, but it touched Van'er. Especially the phrase "We'll never forget those who have sacrificed their lives to protect loved ones and the innocent". After hearing this, he felt a surge of warmth in his heart. That was why recently, in addition to the bread and silver royals, he always felt he had some other pursuits—at least this winter, they survived, relying on their own hands, and not the charity of Longsong Stronghold.
The last part was the burial. Ali's coffin was placed in the dug pit. Chief Knight let everyone queue up, and every member of the Militia, whether he was a formal member or a substitute, stepped forward with a shovel to fill in a row of soil. As for queuing up, everyone was familiar with it so more than 200 people immediately formed four columns. When it was time for Van'er, he suddenly felt that the shovel became slightly heavier. The attention of his platoon members around him also slowed down his every action.
After he stood aside, his eyes transferred this feeling to the next in line.
The tombstone of Ali was a pure white rectangle stone, and Van'er did not understand a single word on it. Ali was not the first person to take residence in this wasteland. Next to Ali's was a tombstone of the same design, the top of which was covered with snow. When everyone left, Van'er saw the new Captain, Brian, pour a pot of ale slowly on the tombstone.
If this was his own destination, it did not seem bad. He could not help but think so.
"Your Highness," on the way to the castle, Carter suddenly spoke. "You did that to..."
"Was that inappropriate?"
"No." He thought and finally shook his head. "I can't tell, I just think that no one has ever treated the recruited subjects like this—they have neither title nor family background, not even surnames or names."
"But you still felt good, right?"
Roland smiled. Of course, he knew how strongly this idea would appeal to Carter, who also saw honor in fight and guardianship. When people start thinking about for whom and why they were fighting, the platoon would undergo unimaginable changes. There was a deep significance for Carter: once honor was no longer the privilege of the noble alone, and through his training and teaching, the civilian population who had nothing could also obtain honor by defending their homes, his doubled sense of accomplishment was simply indescribable.
Of course, the public funeral was just a beginning, Roland thought, he still had many means that could be used to enhance the collective sense of honor, such as the design of a military flag, the composition of a military song, the choice of a model hero and so on.
Every kind of spirit had its own origin. Only the relentless practice day after day would instill the idea and gradually achieve results. In order to ensure the reliable operating system in the future, he even arranged a small team consisting of himself, the City Hall, the Militia team to ensure that the follow-up food and charcoal were continually distributed.
As things progressed, Roland felt that his burden was getting heavier. Border town was still too backward, though people's livelihood had started to get on track. There was adequate food reserve, and so far no one had starved or frozen to death. This would have been a miracle in other cities. Even in the king's city, the capital of the Kingdom of Graycastle, the winter wiped out many refugees or orphans every year.
But he wanted far more than that, the City Hall's operating load had already reached the limit. All financial and administrative management relied on Assistant Minister Barov and his dozen apprentices. If he wanted to further expand the department, he had to recruit some managers. He had once asked Barov if there were any capable students or colleagues left in the king's city, but he received a cold reply: "Even if there were, they wouldn't be willing to come. Your Highness, do you realize how bad your reputation is in the king's city?"
[Well, that sounds reasonable,] he thought unhappily.
Back at the castle backyard, Nightingale stepped out of the Mist and gave a warm embrace to Wendy, who was waiting outside the wooden shed. Lightning hung around the unfinished steam boring machine and once she saw Roland, immediately insisted she wanted to help assemble this automatic machine.
Looking at this scene, he suddenly felt that his efforts had been worth it.
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