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Vermillion – Chapter 18.3 Bahasa Indonesia

[PART 3]

North-western Satyna, the slums.

The area followed along the sewer line from the city and acted as a den for the outlaws that couldn’t enter the city and those who were discriminated against.

The sewers had slate enclosing them, however it did nothing to prevent the smell from leaking out. It was a terrible environment; in some places the water leaked out with a stench nauseating enough to make one sick.

A man walked down the dirty road. His black hair was frizzy and unkempt. The color of his clothes was deeply faded from wearing them for a long time. His eyes were a little restless and he hunched his stocky body over as he quickened his pace.

The man’s name was Borris.

In the city of Satyna—he had been an arrow craftsman.

He quickly navigated the complex slum streets. On either side there were only rundown shacks, making the roads like a maze. He continued even farther west and came to a small, desolate alley.

He leaned against one of the shacks, still hunched over, and sighed lightly while he gave his legs a break. There were only a few people around.

An old woman with a suspicious air around her sat in a small chair. Lined up on her beaten up desk were some animal bones and a crystal shard. She seemed to be a fortune teller, but the small copper coin in the plate next to her made her look like a beggar as well.

Even though Borris stood next to her, she hung her head and didn’t move a muscle.

On the other side of the street sat a group of dirty men with a dangerous look in their eyes. Their faces were black with tattoos. They held their rusty swords preciously. Grassland people turned vagrant after losing their homes in the war ten years ago, or perhaps—

They glared sharply at Borris, who quickly turned his gaze away.

The city sounded far away, here. The stagnant atmosphere weighed heavily. The breeze that blew through the alley contained a trace of nervousness. A disturbing silence prevailed.

Tap tap, tap tap tap, tap, Borris tapped his feet, as if trying to get rid of the silence. Tap tap, tap tap tap, tap. He looked like a kid that was killing time.

“You… Over there.” The old woman moved for the first time. Her movements were slow as she turned to Borris and gave him a yellow stained smile. “Have you seen a crow? A crow…”

Borris answered her question slightly tense, “Yes, I have.”

“Is that so. So have I. A black crow… Gegege,” she laughed eerily.

Her eyes were white and clouded over. He wondered what she saw with those eyes.

“Sit down… I’ll read your fortune…”

Borris did as she instructed and sat down across from her. The chair quietly creaked.

“Give me your hand.”

Without a word he put out his right hand.

Her arms were like withered branches. She smoothed down his hand, “It’s… white,” she said, “White… feathers. Beware of him. He brings death with him…”

Borris swallowed audibly at her ominous words. “If I avoid the white feathers will I be okay?”


She nodded slowly and pulled her hands away.

A small metal case sat in the palm of his hand.

“Now… Go. There is not much time left…”

Borris stuffed the case in his shirt. Without a word, he stood up and quickly left.

He felt the stares of the men with the swords all the while—

He simply took the same route back.

The walls of Satyna came into view after walking along the slightly dirty road in the evening light. The gate that connected the slums and the Old Town, while not as bad as the southern gates, had a line of people waiting to get in.

Borris quietly got in the back of the line. It looked like they were inspecting people in groups of five. The guards all had short spears and strict expressions. Unable to keep calm, Borris tapped his feet, tap tap, tap tap tap. He was like an impatient child. One of the guards looked at him dubiously. The line proceeded slowly but steadily.

“Next! The next five, step forward!”

Borris’ turn had come. There was one person in front and three behind. The group entered the gate.

“Alright, everyone take off your shoes! Put your hands behind your head!”

Unlike the others, this one had a metal breastplate. Upon his helmet was a white feather—proof of his status as commanding officer. Borris’ body stiffened for a moment and it looked like he was going to make eye contact with the guard, so he quickly looked down.


Borris’ mouth was completely dry. He prayed desperately to not stand out, even though he was sinking into muddy waters.

“You! What are you hiding?!” The guard said in a threatening voice.

The blood drained from Borris’ face, however the guard wasn’t directing it at him. It was at the person behind him.

The woman, who wore what looked like beaten up rags, was punched to the ground by the guard.

“Sir! This woman had this in her shoes…”

One of the guards held out a small leather bag to the commanding officer. With a harsh expression he took it and opened it up. White powder poured out smoothly. He poked it with his fingertip and licked it before spitting it out.


“I-I don’t know what that is! It’s not mi—“ she shouted in a shaky voice.

“Shut it! Don’t struggle!”

The guards further beat her with batons.

“Stop!! Don’t hit her anymore!” said the commanding officer. He forced his way in between the woman and the guards, stopping the assault immediately. He jerked his chin at the gate’s inner door while the woman’s gaze clung to him, “Take her away.”

Two burly guards grabbed her from either side and forced her to stand.

“I have a few things to ask her. Be polite… Don’t kill her yet.”

He looked at her like she was a worm. Her face turned white and she started to tremble under his cruel gaze.

“N-no! You’re wrong, I really know nothing! Save me, anyone, anyone!”

“Damn it, don’t struggle!”

“Get her out of here!”

The woman, half-crazed, resisted in vain as she was taken to the guard station in the city wall.

“Stupid woman… She’ll probably become a slave…”

“No… It’s been even more severe recently…”

“Carriers are beheaded without exception…”

“If they don’t die during the ‘cross-examination’…”

The people waiting in line whispered to each other, but the moment the commanding officer cleared his throat they fell silent.

“Alright, stay still.”

One of the guards stepped in front of Borris. He began the body check from his feet and roughly worked his way up. Borris stood still and stared at the commanding officer’s white feathers. Finally, the guard’s hands felt the metal case in his shirt.

The guard hesitated. He felt all around the case, confirming its shape and cast a glance at Borris’ stiff face. Then, the guard took his hands off of him.

“Nothing strange here,” said the guard nonchalantly to the commanding officer behind him.

The guard had stared at Borris earlier when he was fidgeting.

“Okay, then let him through.” He nodded deeply and pulled his gaze away from Borris.

Borris exhaled a long, thin breath as he put his shoes back on and slowly went through the small gate.

“—Next five, step forward!”

He ignored the commanding officer’s voice behind him, only letting out a sigh of relief after he had turned down a couple alleys.

That was close…

His face was gaunt. In the dusk light he dragged his feet down the alley, which was much cleaner than the ones in the slums.

Eventually, he came to a small pub with faint light leaking from the door. He took a seat at the counter and in a monotonous voice ordered from the bartender, “Ale…”

The bartender filled a wooden mug with amber liquid from a barrel and violently placed it in front of him.

“Yo, bro. How’ve you been?” The man next to him casually spoke to him and pressed his mug to his lips with obvious practice, and drank as if it were glued to his mouth.

“Great…” replied Borris gloomily as he took the case out and slipped it to the man under the counter.

He took it without missing a beat.

“Good to hear. How’s the wife?”

“She ran off a long time ago…”

“Hahahaha, that’s right. My bad, my bad, I forgot.” The man put away the case with a nasty smirk. In exchange, he placed a small leather bag in front of Borris. “Your bill’s on me as an apology, so drink up. See ya,” the man stood up from his seat and left the pub.

Borris sluggishly checked the contents of the bag. A large handful of copper coins glimmered faintly.

It was a little short of equaling one silver. The bag was a little bulky, but it wasn’t worth all that much.

“Just this much…” he muttered.

This is how much your life is worth. That’s what it felt like.


He threw back his mug and washed down the rest of his ale. The cheap alcohol tasted bad, but he couldn’t leave it undrunk. Not even a silver. It paid better than a regular job, but it wouldn’t earn him enough to pay his debt back for a long time. He would possibly have to do it over ten more times.

“Ale…” he said, holding his empty mug in front of him as he glared at the swaying lamp that hung from the ceiling.

Borris couldn’t even imagine how much the contents of the metal case he’d had were worth if it were sold on a large scale. However, if he went by the street price then it’d sell for no less than ten or twenty silvers.

Even so, he didn’t even get one silver.


He downed the rest of his ale, feeling sad and empty. He didn’t even know the man’s name that took the case. Today had gone well enough, but one wrong step and he could’ve been at the end of his rope, just like that woman. He was just the tip of the lizard’s tail. His worthlessness made him feel nauseas. While he lamented the unfairness of the world, some good times crossed his mind. Times of when he was still a successful craftsman.

“Those were the good days…” As he muttered to himself, Montand popped into his head. “Why is he like that, yet I’m—!” He gripped his mug vigorously. “You’ll see what it’s like…”

The taste of this cheap alcohol.

The rotten man’s venomous words died out in the faintly lit, small, and shabby pub on the outskirts of town.


By the way, the currency system works as follows:

1 coin = 10 small coins

10 copper coins = 100 small copper coins = 1 silver coin

10 silver coins = 100 small silver coins = 1 gold coin


[1] Green foxtail: This is an annual grass with decumbent or erect stems growing up to a meter long, and known to reach two meters or more at times. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setaria_viridis

[2] small coppers: 10 ‘small’ currency = 1 currency and 100 currency = 1 higher currency. ie: 10 small coppers = 1 copper and 100 silvers = 1 gold


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