Chapter 41 – Oath
The slaves weren’t stupid, as they had now learned how to cook rice. When they had been the possessions of other owners, a couple of them had been randomly picked to cook meals, so they weren’t strangers to cooking.
With how simple rice-cooking actually was, it didn’t take long for the slaves to fill 7 pots with rice and water. Zhao Hai then brought bronze basins for them to use as lids for the pots.
The large pots didn’t have specific lids, and everyone knew that the regular military wouldn’t use these pots. Only slaves would use pots like these, and for them, it was good enough to be able to eat, while taste was not among their concerns.
The slaves had never made soup before, and they didn’t know how to make it. They had never eaten anything as decent as Buda family’s meals during their time in other owners’ places. Sometimes, in those places, they were only able to eat things similar to rice candies or some moldy rice. It was because of this that many slaves died every day on the continent. But for the slave owners, slaves dying was not a big deal. It was simply a matter of buying more of them.
That was the reason why the slaves were now staring dumbly at the vegetables and fruit oil. Ju also knew how the slaves were feeling at this moment. She had been a commoner once, so she still knew a bit about simple cooking methods.
Ju stood in front of an empty pot and poured fruit oil into it. This time, Zhao Hai paid serious attention to the oil. It was slightly yellow and very clear. He had heard that it was squashed from fruits that had an extremely high amount of oily contents. Many places on the continent had been planting these fruits, so fruit oil was very cheap.
Ju waited for the oil to heat up, and then put the vegetables into the pot for a simple stir fry. She then poured water and put 2 spoons of salt into the pot. Once it boiled, this soup would be counted as done.
This was the most simple recipe for a soup. It had almost no skill behind it and there were no seasonings other than some rough salt. This was the best any slave could get.
Salt wasn’t cheap on the continent. Normally, what nobles used were fine-made clean salts. That kind of salt was very tiny, much like Earth’s salt, while the kind of salt used by slaves was, of course, very cheap with a lot of impurities.
Yet even so, these slaves of Buda family wouldn’t get to consume salt every day. It was considered generous to let slaves have salt once every 3 days for other slave owners. Commonly, slave owners let their slaves have salt once a week, and in small quantities.
These days, Zhao Hai had been occupied with the matters inside the space and the future developments of Black Wastelands, so he hadn’t had any time to gain a clear understanding of the slaves’ survival conditions. He had no misgivings about what Ju was doing right now, as he assumed that every slave on the continent was living this way. Maybe the slaves in this family were worse off compared to other families, since they didn’t have so many supplies.
Zhao Hai couldn’t help but let out a sigh as he watched Ju make the simple soup. Meg, who was standing next to him, asked, “What’s wrong, young master? Is it because there’s too much salt being used? Should we cut it down?”
Zhao Hai looked at Meg with confusion, “Too much? How so? That large pot, with only that bit of salt? I’m just thinking that our family is still too weak right now, and we can only let them eat such simple things. When we get richer, I will surely let them eat meat.”
The moment Zhao Hai ended that sentence, he felt that everyone was giving him weird looks. The slaves were watching him as if they had seen a ghost, which served to confuse him.
He asked Meg in a low voice, “What’s wrong, Meg? Was it something I said?”
Meg couldn’t help but sigh inwardly at Zhao Hai’s display. Adam had known that Buda family had slaves in the past, but he had neither left the imperial capital nor approached the slaves before, so there had been no way for him to know what sort of life the slaves had been living. Meg just explained the slaves’ living conditions to Zhao Hai in a low voice.
Zhao Hai went dumbstruck as he listened to Meg. For someone who had been born into a new society under the red flag, while on the forefront of reformation and liberalization, the way of life which Meg was describing to him was so distant from his. It was like the people who had experienced the old society life would resonate with opera, while people like him who had been born during the 80’s would find it difficult to resonate with it, since they had never had that kind of experience. No matter how detailed the description inside books, they would only be things inside books. How could books be compared to actual experience?
After Meg summarized the slaves’ living conditions, Zhao Hai looked at the slaves with eyes full of sympathy. He sighed and said, “Be at ease, everyone. I will keep my word. One day, I will let you eat meat everyday, every meal, until you’re fed up with it. I swear it upon the Buda family’s honor.”
Zhao Hai was a kind person. Even though he had been very homestuck back on Earth, homebodies in general were usually timid people, and barring some differences, they were kind people as well. They may be socially inept, but it didn’t mean they were perverts. Actually, the majority of homebodies could not stand the dark aspects of their world, which was why they chose to lock themselves up in their own worlds. Zhao Hai had been such a person.
After arriving at Ark Continent, Zhao Hai’s identity had been changed. He was now a noble with a fief and 100 slaves had to survive under him. His words could mean their survival or their deaths, which placed another responsibility on him. He felt that improving their lives was his responsibility, and that was why he said such words while being driven to develop his fief.
The slaves then kneeled down on the ground emotionally and prostrated themselves toward Zhao Hai, “Thank you for your benevolence, master!”
Zhao Hai’s words were enough, despite having gained nothing yet. Nobles on the continent had a strange tradition: they wouldn’t swear oaths easily. Even if they did swear, they normally wouldn’t use their own family honor to do so. Because, although they would sometimes go against their word even when swearing by god, they would never do so after swearing by their family honor.
It was exactly because of this that the slaves would believe Zhao Hai’s words. They believed that Zhao Hai’s oath made under the honor of his family would one day become a reality.
Meg opened her mouth, yet no words came out. She had been taking care of the slaves these past days, and to be honest, she was sympathetic towards them as well. That was why she didn’t object to Zhao Hai’s words.
Just then, Maylin called out, “Young master, the meal is ready.”
Zhao Hai nodded and glanced at everyone before speaking to Meg, Ju and An, “Meg, Ju, An, let’s go and eat inside.”
Ju and An were going to stay here and eat, but after looking at Zhao Hai, they didn’t say anything. They simply followed him and Meg into the grass hut, followed by Blockhead and Rockhead.
The moment they entered the grass hut, the slaves let themselves loose. Even though Zhao Hai had been very kind to them, he was their master in the end. As long as he was around, they would not feel free.
Inside the grass hut, Zhao Hai and the others could see that Maylin had finished making a scrambled dough and a soup. Zhao Hai actually wanted to eat rice, but seeing Maylin like this, he feared that he had no hope of doing so today.
There were only 4 chairs in the grass hut, but Zhao Hai brought out 3 more chairs from the storage at will, so that 7 people could now be seated. Although the table wasn’t as large as the one that had been in the castle’s dining hall, it was enough for 7 people to dine.
After letting them sit down, Zhao Hai used a knife and fork to start eating Maylin’s baked dough. He actually didn’t want to use a knife and fork, but Maylin would never agree to that, unfortunately.
Still, this dough had its own taste. The flavor was passable. Zhao Hai and the others finished their dinner slowly, before Maylin cleared the dishes. By the time they all went out of the hut, the slaves had finished their own meals.
The large pots were still there, but they had obviously been cleaned. The slaves seemed to be full, and were sitting there with no energy in their expressions.
Zhao Hai knew that people would get sleepy after being full, so he thought that the slaves would be the same. He didn’t let them get up. He just frowned when he glanced at the trash on the ground.
Although Zhao Hai wasn’t a neat freak, he didn’t want his space to be dirtied. These things could only stay inside the space for now.
Zhao Hai looked at the sky of the space. The surroundings of this space were still foggy and unclear, but it was fortunate that there was no smoke in the sky. It seemed that burning inside the space had little effect.
Zhao Hai turned to Maylin and said, “Granny Maylin, I think you should rest inside the hut. We’ve just had a meal and they should be sleepy. Just let them rest.”
Maylin glanced at the slaves and noticed how ‘out of it’ they were. She just nodded, “Alright. Let’s rest for a bit, but we don’t need to do so inside the hut. Just outside will do.”
Zhao Hai immediately replied, “Granny Maylin, Meg, Blockhead, Rockhead, come with me into the hut. I have something I want to show you.” He opened the door to the hut and walked in afterwards.
Maylin and the others didn’t know what Zhao Hai was going to show them, but they heeded his words. They knew that they would never know as much as Zhao Hai when it came to the space. It was better to listen to Zhao Hai on this subject.