Chapter 238 “Rugaard of the Northwest” (part one)
Helen Mountain, also known as a tail of the Kilimanjaro Mountain range, is a small mountain that made a clear cut through the center of the Nuling Province; thus, dividing the province in two.
Though Governor Bohan and the Northwest Army didn’t openly say this, but both parties are using this mountain line as a boundary between the two – the south belonging to Bohan and the North to the Northwest Army.
When Du Wei and his convoy finally reached Helen City located at the base of this mountain, the soldiers sent over by Bohan to escort Du Wei and his men were already turning away. The reason is no other, Helen city is controlled by the Northwest Army so it’s only natural for Bohan’s men to leave.
From as far as 10li (500 meter per li) out from the city, the sound of horse beating against the ground could already be heard from the direction of the city. Unlike last time though, the attitude from the 1000 strong unit from the Northwest Army was much better than before. Stopping at a distance not far from Du Wei’s convoy, one of the soldiers carry a black flag came out from his unit and politely requested an audience with Du Wei.
As Du Wei got off his carriage to meet the guy, Du Wei was a little surprised to find that the person is an old acquaintance.
Totoro: a general that specialized in the management of the logistic department of the Northwest Army.
On many occasions, this fatty had met with Du Wei to ask for military funds back when he first came to the Northwest. Despite being taken advantage of by this guy, Du Wei never made things difficult for Totoro; as such, their relationship can’t be called terrible.
“Duke, It’s been a long time.” Getting off his horse, this Totoro then came up to Du Wei and performed a quick greeting gesture before pulling at Du Wei’s hand in a friendly manner: “Duke, I can’t believe you actually came to visit. When the Army Head heard of your coming, I was sent here to welcome you.”
Since he’s here to be a guest, Du Wei can only push down the piled up anger inside. With a smiling face, he replied: “I was worried my visit may be a bit reckless. As an uninvited guest, I fear general Rugaard will find my visit to be insensitive.”
Exchanging some more useless words, Du Wei made sure to pin down any changes on this Totoro’s face. Sure enough, this fatty would on occasion shoot some alarming stares at Du Wei’s men.
Luckily Du Wei wasn’t afraid of this fatty checking up on his people and luggage, after all, the whole reason for his visit is to openly waltz into the enemy home and bring some trouble along the way.
Du Wei’s thoughts at the moment: though his convoy doesn’t have anything dangerous, but a dragon will soon be here in a couple of days!
As for Totoro, this logistic general didn’t find much interest in Du Wei’s team after some careful assessment, but he did give a extra glance at Du Wei’s coach driver.
“Eh? Duke, I didn’t know you like to use these types of barbarians from the Southeast.” Totoro smiled, his voice lowering: “Our General Rugaard is the same. Just recently, he got a handful of beautiful slaves from that region. Since you are here, you will also have the pleasure of seeing them.”
Not replying, Du Wei only smiled.
Seeing this, Totoro quickly pat his head like he just realized something: “Foolish me, I got a big mouth here! Your Dukeship already has the fortune of receiving the Marquise’s favor, so why would these mediocre beauties stay in your eye.” When he said this, Totoro was always looking at Du Wei to see what his reaction would be.
Though Du Wei knew he was being observed, he didn’t bother exposing it. With a somewhat sly smile, he casually replied: “General Totoro is too humorous, but to be able to see some woman from the Southeast on this visit, it seems General Rugaard and I are of the same kind!”
As he finish, Du Wei began to pull Totoro’s hand to board the carriage.
Totoro never was much of a military man. Even inside the Northwest Army, this person is more like a financial steward than a general. Seeing the chance to ride in a comfortable carriage with fine furnishing, this fatty would of course not deny the invitation, especially when the Duke is so insistent, right???
Once inside, Du Wei immediately pulled a bottle of fine wine out from the secret compartment under his seat. Using this as a starter, this fatty finally let’s himself go after gulping down several cups of alcohol: “Good wine! It truly is hard to come across such a fine wine in this impoverish place!”
Du Wei faintly smiled: “This wine is made from a fruit in the Southeast. If General Totoro like, I can have someone send over a case or two.”
Hearing this, Totoro continuously expressed his gratitude for the gift. However, just when this general was at a high point, Du Wei suddenly uttered something in a soft voice: “But, General is the great steward in charge of 200,000 soldiers. I fear the rare commodities in my possession can only be called common in the general’s eye.”
“Of course not!” Totoro repeatedly denied this, his tone sounded a little pitiful as he shook his head back and forth: “Your Dukeship is making fun of me. My post here may look glamorous on the outside, but I’m merely a mouse that has to put up with the troubles of both side. On one hand I have to handle the job of begging Governor Bohan for money, on the other I have to deal with the division generals that come demanding for money. The truth is I’m quite stressed about all this too, hence the reason why I was so happy to be given the job of welcoming your lordship.”
Du Wei suddenly had a thought: “Did you say General Rugaard recently bought some slaves….. I’m guessing it was done through your hands too, right?”
“Of course!” At the mention of women, the eyes of this fatty were brimming with light: “The girls from the Southeast are a bit dark in terms of skin complexion, but I must say, they’re always silky smooth to the touch. Best of all, they’re always submissive with many other benefits for the owner….. HAHA, if Duke is interested….. Oh no, no, I misspoke. If your Dukeship can get something as good as this wine, then there’s no way you are lacking in girls from the Southeast.”
What, demanding a bribe now?
Raising his lips into a fake smile, Du Wei began to test the water: “It’s not difficult to do….. You know, I don’t hold much interest in women because of my Magician background, but getting my hands on some beautiful Southeast girls isn’t difficult at all. If General Totoro is interested, I’ll have someone send over the best girls under my business along with the wine of course.”
At his words, Totoro became so happy that even his eyes turned into the shape of a crescent moon. Noticing this, Du Wei decided to downplay the situation to see the reaction: “Oh that’s right, since General Rugaard had you buy a batch of beautiful slave girls, surely they must be exceedingly beautiful. I fear mine wouldn’t even be lookable in comparison.”
This fatty may be very good at covering his real emotions, but even he wasn’t able to stop the reflex like reaction he leaked: “Of course not! I’m merely a housekeeper, how can my lowly status get one of those girls. General Rugaard had me buy them for the other generals as a reward for their hard work.”
“He’s no soldier, he’s more like a Babbitt businessmen found in the marketplace!” This is Du Wei’s evaluation of Totoro.
If Rugaard really revolted, a person like this may not necessarily follow through with the plan. Perhaps he can start from this angle and get an idea of whatever the Northwest Army is planning.
“One shouldn’t be afraid of others being greedy, what they should fear is not knowing what they desire!”
As his carriage continued to move forward, Du Wei gave the order to not stay in Helan City and head straight for the Northwest Army’s headquarter. Since he’s being escorted anyways, Du Wei is not afraid of any mishaps along the road at night. Looking back at the date, the second dragon prince should be here really soon, best make haste.
In the next few days, Du Wei had practically won over this Totoro with his precious carriage. Showering the general with luxurious food and wine, there was no end in sight for the praises coming out of the fatty’s mouth.
It’s to be expected. Totoro may be in charge of the logistic department, but this land is simply too barren. At best, you can only call him a soiled rich man from the benefits he reaped thus far from his job.
Moreover, he is still inside the army. Even if this fatty likes to indulge himself in pleasure, it’s still not proper to be so blatant about it inside the army.
If not out of consideration for Du Wei’s identity, Totoro might have really called for some beautiful ladies to accompany him inside the carriage.
Finally after two days like this, Du Wei and his convoy finally arrived at the main headquarter of the Northwest Army “Watt” fortress.
This is an intermediate sized fortress city built for the sole purpose of housing the military. With a glance up at the defensive wall, Du Wei estimate it’s at least 15 meters in height. Seems the owner spared no expense when constructing it because the material used is obviously the rock-hard boulders so commonly found in the Northwest.
Then there is also the siege weapons placed atop of the ramparts. Are those catapults he’s seeing up there?
As for the ballista’s, there’s really not much to say other than too many!
It wasn’t just all about the fortress. Outside the wall, there are several big military camps stationed around the perimeter with a ginormous training field further out for the cavalry to train in. This city truly is militarized…….
Ever since the Northwest Army made their home here many years ago, pretty much all of the residence inside the city are the families of the soldiers serving inside the Northwest Army. In order to maintain loyalty from his men, this sly Rugaard intentionally had this done so these people can be kept as hostages if the soldier in question tried any funny business.
When Du Wei’s convoy first arrived at the gate, he took the initiative to actively get off his carriage just so he can ride on a horse. His visit today is to make it as high profile as possible, therefore, making an appearance at the front of his convoy is more ideal than stuffing himself inside a box.
Following in his lead, Totoro also got on a horse and rode next to him, all the while introducing the sites inside the city.
Suddenly, something further ahead of the street caught his sight. With a dome shape structure, this building with stain glass windows also hung an iconic sign above the entrance that gave off a divine sensation to anyone that looks at it…….
“EH?” Du Wei was slightly taken aback: “This place also has a temple?”
“Your Dukeship is too funny.” Totoro looked stern in the way he spoke because not even he dares to kid around when it came to the temple: “Not only is the Temple of Light the state religion, many of our soldiers – including many generals – are devoted follower of the goddess. I believe I don’t need to mention this, but its common knowledge anyone with power inside the empire are firm believers of the temple.”
Du Wei may be nodding, but his real thoughts were: I’m not, what you are going to do?
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