One person mumbled aloud.
“How did this happen?”
Another person grumbled.
“What are we looking at here?”
The council chairwoman Maria suddenly started yelling at the crowd which had mostly fallen silent before the brightly burning cross.
“You all, isn’t this what you wanted!?”
Nobody could give her a complete answer. They could only stand there and watch the still rising flames.
And so Maria bitterly asked her next question.
“So then, which one of you is going to be the next scapegoat!?”
This question actually managed to get a response from somebody.
“She wasn’t a scapegoat! We were just killing a demon!”
Just as the man had finished shouting, a man and woman suddenly grabbed the citizen from both sides. The man who was holding the citizen then shouted loud enough for everybody to hear.
“Oi, this guy here is a demon too!”
The woman started shouting the exact same thing.
“This man is a demon!”
“Stop it! Where is your proof!?”
“You were happily staring into the fire as a little girl burned just now!”
“Didn’t you remain silent as our precious Marcosia was sentenced to death!?”
The city square started to get noisy.
The man and woman throwing out these accusations were well known to everyone in Warren. Because it was the Muscle Brother Goro and Machel.
Maria took a simple glance towards the three before turning back to the rest of the crowd.
“Okay, if two executive members of the Merchant Guild who are also in charge of Freedom Promenade are saying so, then it must be true. So let’s burn him as well! Ready the fire!”
A shiver ran through the crowd. The thought of themselves being accused and burned at the stake flashed through everyone’s minds.
Each person became concerned about their own well-being, and the venue once again fell into silence.
“Now now, let’s not hit them too hard.”
The Adventurer’s Guild guildmaster Theseus appeared from behind Maria. He then called out to the waiting crowd.
“Raise your hand if you enjoyed watching someone be burned to death.”
Not a single person raised their hand.
“Okay then, raise you hand if you didn’t enjoy watching someone be burned to death.”
Only a few people raised their hands at first, but once the sense of numbness and shock finally started to ebb away, eventually everyone raised their hand.
“Now everyone here who regrets burning Marcosia should keep their hands up.”
Nobody in the crowd even tried dropping their hand to their side.
“Good, then it’s your turn Izerina.”
This time it was the Magician’s Guild guildmaster Izerina who stepped on stage.
“Everyone, never forget what you’re feeling right now. And never forget about Marcosia who risked everything to save a child in need.”
The crowd was deathly silent, the crackle of the burning wood being the only thing anybody could hear for a few seconds.
Then Izerina began casting a spell. Soon the roaring inferno began to flicker, and the flames rapidly weakened. The people in the crowd unconsciously turned away from the cross. Images of two scorched and mangled corpses plagued their minds.
But when everything cleared away, there were no corpses to be turned away from. Instead, there was Marcosia. Sleeping and still tied to a cross, but obviously alive. And at her feet was a happily sleeping Ravi who seemed completely unconcerned with the charred wood around her.
A collective sigh of relief swept through the crowd. A few overjoyed cheers came from here and there as well. But then Maria started shouting at them again.
“Understand this everyone! Lynchings and private judgments are irreversible and idiotic acts! To fear someone only for where they were born or what they were born as is foolish and blinds you from the truth! And as for you beastmen refugees, if you want to stay here, then you will become citizens of Warren and will work! There will be no more refugees in Warren!”
“Yes, come over here if you want to know more information about any potential jobs~!”
As Maria finished her chastisement, another voice called out and drew the crowd’s attention form the stage. Their eyes landed on a breath-taking beauty who was standing next to the village chief of Hope Coast Gattis and pointing towards Warren’s live house.
At the same time, a few voices scattered around the city square rose up.
“Take Marcosia down from there first!”
“That’s right! We have to apologize to that girl!”
The cross Marcosia was tied to was brought down, and she was let go. Goro accepted the sleeping girl into his arms. Meanwhile Machel picked up Ravi who was still sleeping at Marcosia’s feet in the burned wood. Izerina then released the enchantments she had set on them that had put them to sleep and allowed them to resist the heat of the flames.
“I wonder if this will calm things down.”
“As long as the root of the problem here, poverty, gets cleaned up.”
Ellis and Baltis, the playwrights of this little drama, shook their heads while feeling a little tired.
Baltis and Ellis had known that problems concerning the refugees and what Marcosia was would erupt sooner or later. And yet they already had their hands full trying to cope with the approaching Ceramics army. But then the incident happened, and both problems were laid out on a plate for them at the same time.
So the two of them came up with a plan to handle both problems at the same time.
Ellis’s aim was to eliminate the poverty difference that had made the refugees so sour with the other beastmen who were already citizens of Warren.
So she headed over to Hope Coast and asked Gattis if he would be willing to hire some of the refugees. Already struggling with his lack of manpower after formally opening for business only recently, Gattis was more than happy to hire some of his fellow struggling beastmen. He returned to Warren with Ellis, and with the help of the Workshop Guild, they started up an interview event inside the live house.
Baltis’s aim was to eliminate any reasonless discrimination.
He and the other guildmasters set up a play where the citizens of Warren would put aside their differences to join against a common enemy–Marcosia. Then from there, all they would have to do is convince everyone about how foolish that hatred was.
Naturally all the preparations for this had to be done in secret, but because members of the gachihomo corps kept barging into the Thieves’ Guild demanding that Marcosia be set free along with all the people from Freedom Promenade who kept making direct complaints to Maria, Machel and Goro were clued in to the act and became part of their little troupe. By the way, Ravi jumping into the fire like she had wasn’t part of the plan at all. Baltis had broken out into a cold sweat when he saw her and could only pray that Izerina had managed to catch her in time.
“When Marcosia obediently accepted being burned at the stake before we could tell her it was all going to be fake, I was honestly a little frightened. After it was all said and done, I had to honestly apologize to her for all the inconvenience our city is putting her through. That sort of girl is something else.”
“Phrases such as demon-like humans or human-like demons are going to lose their meaning.”
The two took one last look back at Marcosia who was crying out in joy for everyone in the crowd who was supporting her before turning back towards the live house and entering the interview event with a smile.
One after another, each person who attended the interview event managed to find a paying job. What was really surprising was just how many people wanted to join the Adventurer Guild’s vigilantes corps. It turns out that many of the men had devoted their time to protecting their families from their surroundings, but they had been freed from these duties now that they had actual homes. For them, Warren was a last bastion. Each of them were on their hands and knees, begging Theseus to let them fight.
Eventually, it was decided that 200 of the 500 refugees would join the vigilante group while the remaining 300 took up work on Hope Coast.
“Ellis, Gramps just called me. Ceramics’s army just arrived in Wheat Grace.”
While Ellis and Katie patrolled the live house, Reeve called in a report from home. As a note, Bizon and Gurre were left extremely worried about what was to happen, so Claire and Pi-tan had flown them to Wheat Grace the day before so they could stand by their parents as the army passed through.
“What did they understand about the military situation?”
“Ahh, it sounds like morale isn’t very high. The Ceramics Lord also told Gramps that the 500 members of the peasant militia they’re requisitioning are going to be positioned at the army’s rear near the army’s logistics division. Gramps said he was going to be the one taking command of the unit.”
If it’s that slippery old man, then Ellis expected him to have all sorts of schemes to help out Warren.
Meanwhile in the Adventurer Guild, Frau had started handing out armor and various different weapons to the vigilantes corp that the girls had been accumulating over time in preparation for the upcoming conflict.
It was only three more days until the army from Ceramics would arrive.
In the evening, each member of the Jewelry Box returned home in order to discuss the future.
“Well, we have to do what we have to do,” Ellis started drawing up different plans for each eventuality that might crop up.
“Even if they are soldiers, I’d rather not cut down innocent people who don’t really understand what’s going on, but I guess it can’t be helped,” Reeve mumbled while for some reason looking ecstatic as she readied her katana.
“I’m sure there are some demons mixed in there as well,” Frau pulled out a cloth from her satchel and started polishing her halberd while looking particularly excited.
“It looks like Reeve and Frau are enjoying themselves,” Claire poked fun at the two while spiritedly testing out new magic she wanted to try her hand at.
“Why did the live house have to be closed for a day nya,” and Katie was still running at her own pace as ever.
And so every citizen of Warren hardened their resolve.