Chapter 251 “Retired Knight”
After the passing of all the commotion with the military spring drill, Loulan City once again returns to its bustling and hustling.
Taking advantage of its geographic location closer to the border, this “City of Miracles” has gradually surpassed Governor Bohan’s capital as the trading epicenter in the Northwest.
It’s worrying for the citizens that there are prairie marauders on the prowl, but nothing was more frightening than the flaunting encirclement by the Northwest Army. Fortunately, the news came quickly regarding the beheading of the prairie general. At the very least, this act by the treasonous bastards over at the Northwest Army conveyed one meaning; they didn’t rebel.
Currently in Loulan City, Dadaneier – chief commander of the city garrison – was busily carrying out the “loose in tight out” policy instructed by Du Wei before he left. Scattering their forces across the province, this will ensure that trading and travel remains open between cities and towns. At the same time, loosening the grip inside the city wall will give the impression all remains well for the public. However, this was all a farce. Anyone remotely suspicious would be quickly tagged and secretly monitored the moment they stepped through the gates.
Also, notices of conscription were being posted all across the bulletin boards set along the city entrances. For to this reason, crowds of people would constantly huddle around the boards for information.
Exactly on an average evening like this, a lone middle aged man wearing nothing but common wear was making his way over from the main roads in the North East direction. Although the man was already in his late forties, the martial physique he honed through many years of training could not be hidden behind that firm and tight grip of his over the horse reign.
He should have been nothing but a common traveler in everyone’s eye, but, there was one thing that stood out from him: he didn’t carry a weapon.
One must know, the Northwest is a place of danger where it’s not uncommon to find roadside bandits lurking at every corner. For this reason, merchant groups would always employ large numbers of guards to protect their caravans while traveling. So, the fact that there was someone unarmed while traveling in this barren landscape was quite unusual, woman and children excluded of course.
Like this, this lonesome man along with his horse made their way up to the city gate.
“Halt, where you from?” One of the soldiers asked.
“…… The North. ”
“North? The North is big! I’m asking you a question so be more specific. Where in the North?”
The man smiles in return to this stern looking soldier. Without anger, he softly utters these few words:
“The frozen forest. ”
At the answer, the interrogating soldier was even more confused. Fortunately, one of the officers nearby came up to ask: “Frozen Forest? I’ve never heard of someone living there…. I’m guessing you were a mercenary? Looking at your getup, you should be a warrior?”
The middle-aged man’s patience sure is good. In a modest smile, he answers: “I was once upon a time, but now… I’m retired.”
The officer gave him a glance and thought: so little luggage and not even a weapon. If he’s a retiring mercenary then that make sense.”
“Hearing your accent, you’re also from the Northwest?” After a simple check, the officer’s tone softened: “Our Dukeship just so happens to be looking for talented individuals. Since you know some martial art, why not try your luck? Far better than going home and watching over a few crops of land.”
The middle-aged man only smiled and bid his thanks before heading into the city.
Once inside, the middle-aged man slowly made his way through the busy streets as he curiously assessed the scenery. From the traveling businessman to the local residents, everything was far different from what he remembered of this place.
“To think the Northwest would have such a prosperous city after so many years away from home. Teacher … … Perhaps the advice you gave me was correct. Du Wei, he can really change the Northwest.”
Randomly asking some passersby’s for the Duke’s residence, he was warmly received by the strangers and some even offered to guide him along the way. From their genuine attitude when speaking about this Duke Tulip, the middle aged man can tell these people wholeheartedly respected their lord.
Continuing along his path towards the Duke residence, it wasn’t hard for him to locate the building for it was the tallest structure in the city. Adding in the flaunting flag atop of the castle tower, it would be truly difficult to miss.
And when he finally came into the vicinity of the castle grounds, the middle aged man noticed something quiet peculiar. Unlike the ruckus back in the markets, the area around the Duke’s residence was oddly quiet. However, it didn’t take long for him to understand why. Anyone passing through the streets here would consciously lower their volumes like it was a crime.
Looking at the suspension bridge littered with heavily armed guards, middle aged man was just about to head over when the sound of laughter drifted into his ears.
“Mrs. Dean, don’t listen to what he say. I’m sure you know the Dean’s personality already. In this world, only the dean will scheme against others, not the other way around!”
A somewhat calm voice came from the side: “Watch your mouth while in public! Don’t forget you still haven’t finished your homework for today. If you keep spouting nonsense, I’ll punish you by making you do a couple of hundred trips around the city with the broom!” Pausing, this steady and calm voice continues: “Mrs. Dean, I think it’s getting late. Why don’t we hurry back inside?”
Looking over at the source, the first thing to come into middle aged man’s sight was a group of youngsters surrounding a girl around the age of fifteen or sixteen. They were all dressed in mage robes, but the girl in the middle of the group was clearly different from the rest. Like the slightest mishap would offend this cute little girl, the boys all looked at her with awe and respect whenever they talked to her.
The girl was beautiful to begin with, but because of her shyness, those plump little checks made her big watery eyes even more attractive than ever: “You … … You guys. Don’t call me … … Mrs. Dean……. ” The girl protests embarrassingly.
Watching the group, middle-aged man got a good idea of who they were by now. Instead of making way, he intentionally steps in front of the group’s path.
“Who are you?” The calm young man was the first to call out and was also the first to shield the young girl behind him. His efforts may be valiant, but he seems to have forgotten how powerful the girl behind him truly was.
“May I ask.” Middle-aged man’s voice was very calm: “The ‘Dean’ you mentioned is probably Duke Tulip right? I happen to be here to meet the Duke on a friend’s recommendation.”
Needless to say, the youngsters here are of course the magic apprentices and the girl was our stuttering genius Vivian.
Ever since that night where Vivian got drunk and made declaration of love, these students had completely recognized her as the future wife. And because of her thin skin, Vivian would blush with great shame at her own brave confession whenever she was called out as Mr. Dean by these kids.
Vivian originally intended to procure some ingredients in town today, but because these students kept calling her Mrs. Dean while she was coming back, she ended up wasting a lot of time blushing on the street. Then all of a sudden, a strange man came up to her and caused her to blank out for a second.
The reason was because her instincts picked up something from the middle aged man. While standing in the middle of the street, the man acted casual, but the focus of the surrounding seems to be drawn towards this person. There’s no doubt about it, this man was not ordinary.
“Please, may I ask … … Who are you……” Vivian takes a step forward.
“Ah……” Middle-aged man looks at the shy girl and smiled: “If I’m not mistaken, you are Master Vivian? My friend told me about you and there’s nothing but praises from his mouth.”
Vivian blushes again at the compliment. Giving a curious look at the middle-aged man, she determines the person was not a bad person: “I … … I’m Vivian. You, you are… …”
Middle-aged man rummages through his pocket and pulls out a badge: “This was given to me by my friend. He and I met in the frozen forest, but because he was in a hurry and I was injured, he came back first.”
Vivian takes the badge and immediately recognized it belonged to Hussein. Beaming with light in her eyes, she cried out: “AH! You are……”
“My name is Rodriguez.” Middle-aged man chuckles: “I used to be a knight, but now, I’m just a cripple.”
With that, he raises his right hand to shock Vivian. The right hand, no…. There wasn’t a right anymore!
Watching Vivian’s shocked eyes, Rodriguez laughed very calmly: “I’ve been pondering what a cripple like me should do after parting with my knighthood. Fortunately, the owner of this badge said Duke Tulip might be able to take me in, so…… After thinking it over, I decided to come to the Northwest.”
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