A man with a recently shaved beard walked around the spoils the scavengers had laid down on the ground, examining everything in silence.
The eldest of the scavenger sibling waited with a blank expression.
The young siblings, however, couldn't hide their anxiety.
The oldest knew why her younger brother and sister were like that.
"We need to sell everything and get back to the town before sundown," she had said before they arrived at the army's camp.
If they were too late, they might not live enough to use the money.
"Are those all the weapons and armor you got from the battlefield?" the man asked at last, his voice showing that he wasn't impressed.
"Yes, milord," the eldest siblings said, careful to not look the man in the eyes.
"I'm not a lord," he cut her sharply without even looking at her.
"S-sorry, sir," she said, gulping. She bowed to him and her siblings hurriedly did the same.
"Most weapons are broken," said the man, picking up a sword from the haul.
"Y-yes, mi... sir. The battle was hard, especially after dealing with the Sand-Eaters. Believe me, we brought the best on that field," the woman said.
Then she widened her eyes at her daring and lowered her head to stared at the ground.
She closed her fists so tightly they had lost its color.
The little boy by her side grabbed her hand and squeezed it.
She looked at him and managed to show a tense smile.
"Only a handful can be used right away. Most will have to be melted to of any use, but my lord will take it. We need all the metal we can get," the man said, turning to the siblings. "I'll pay what you're asking."
The younger scavengers smiled and looked up at their older sister.
The woman let out a small sigh of relief and smiled back at her siblings.
Unaware of that, the man nodded to a soldier.
The woman left and went to one of the tents in the middle of the camp.
When she returned, she held a small sack full of coins and handed to the siblings.
The eldest sister tried to maintain an empty face. But when she opened it, her face beamed with a smile as she and the other two stared at the silver and brown reddish coins.
They exchanged looks again and their smiles grew even more.
"Thank you, mi... sir. Thank you so much for the generosity," the eldest sister said, bowing again.
The man let out a quick chuckle.
"I'm not being generous. We need all the metal for weapons and armors. Especially in times like these," he said, his face growing dark.
The scavenger trio stopped smiling, dropped their shoulders and looked at the ground.
It had been a rough month.
Before the forest tribe's betrayal, there had been news about invading groups from all over the border. From north, south and west.
The kingdom had managed to deal with most attacks with ease.
But after the invasion of the Sand-Dwellers with their entire people for the first time in living history, things had gotten much worse.
Violence spread. Life got worse.
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Tetsuko was a blacksmith. Ever since she could remember, her life revolved around swords. And when she died, she became one. I'll be posting this novel on Royal Road as well