Chapter 261 “Hospitality”
Loulan City has been in an uproar ever since the news of the prairie emissary coming to negotiate spread across the Northwest. Day after day, the topic was heavily discussed in the streets, pub and inns.
Their talks weren’t anything special, simply speculations of what the results will be. However, the majority of citizens were leaning more towards the pro-war faction due to Desa Province’s geographical location. As the first in line to face off against the prairie marauders, the people of the Northwest inherently hated the barbarians. Also, they now have Du Wei to lead them. With someone capable of creating numerous miracles, how can they possibly lose? Perfect timing to give some nasty payback for all the years of suffering they faced.
But differences in opinion do exist. For example: large merchant groups that have connections with the natives. No matter what, merchants love nothing more than peace and talks so they can get on with their business. To this group of people, having access to procure cattle and horses from the natives was a major source of revenue for them. In addition, they can double their profit by bringing silk, satin, and basic commodities on their way in. If this trade route was suddenly cut, their losses would be astronomical. Therefore, many merchant groups, large or small, were paying close attention to what the Duke’s intentions were by having their members wait outside the castle gate day after day.
While opinions run rampant outside the castle, Du Wei on the other hand was leisurely waiting around for the emissary’s arrival. To him, this meeting was nothing more than a little play fight to trample the opposition.
Finally, the day has come. Escorted by a thousand imperial guards from the capital, the emissary group containing a whopping hundred natives arrived at Loulan City.
Led by a person named Hamuye, Du Wei was already aware of who this person was. At forty years of age, this high ranking individual in the royal court of the prairie was the uncle of the current Prairie King. In short, a prince if you will.
(His status isn’t exactly a prince but close enough since there’s no proper translation for his title. More like a half Duke half prince like status.)
Although the majority of the documents sent over from the capital pertaining to the negotiation were mostly useless, the information towards this Hamuye wasn’t. According to the intel given to Du Wei, this person was the chief of a small tribe that had business dealings with the Empire. Among these natives regarded as savages, Hamuye was much more civilized than his peers, a rarity among his people.
Truth be told, Hamuye himself was also very depressed at the current situation. After wasting loads of energy in quarreling with those diplomats back in the capital, he not only didn’t make any progress, he was then pushed over to the Desa Province.
Most importantly though, Hamuye was one of those rare individuals naturally savvy in politics. The prairie natives are a group of people that put strength above all else, but Hamuye himself on the other hand wasn’t an excellent fighter. Different from everyone else, he took advantage of his lineage and inherited his tribe. Then after decades of planning and careful observation, he stood keenly beside his nephew and secured his status in the royal family. To put it cleanly, he’s a person that uses his brain first among a society that values brute strength above all others. One has to admit, he’s got some skills.
But, the negotiations in the capital really struck a cord with Hamuye. While he negotiated with the officials on the surface, he was constantly gathering information in secret regarding the attitude of Regent Son. He knew full well Augustine the 6th wasn’t the one in control anymore; therefore, even at the expense of exposing the spies he planted years ago, he still made a move.
When it came to negotiations, the key to gaining the upper hand was to learn the attitude of the supreme leader. Only by learning what the enemy wanted will one come out on top.
Unfortunately Hamuye was greatly disappointed. After pulling all the strings and throwing money left and right, he couldn’t get a single whiff of useful information. Then all of a sudden, he finds out the negotiation will be relocated to the Northwest and all decisions will be handed off to this Duke Tulip…..
What is this?
Do these Roland people want to fight or not? Or is it… …
This Duke Tulip may be younger than Regent Son, but Hamuye wasn’t foolish enough to think it would be easier to deal with his new foe just because he was a kid…..
Whether it was politicians or officials, Hamuye could always find their weaknesses. Why? Because there was always a pattern to people like that. This Duke though was different and posed a serious problem for Hamuye. If the person was a simple kid, he can make some decent guesses based on the rash habits of a young mind. But he’s a Magician of all things!
It’s no mystery that Mages are irrational in their behaviors and does things on a whim.
These days, Hamuye’s been wracking his brains out scanning through the information he hastily gathered on this Duke Tulip. In the end, he reached a very frustrating conclusion: he’s a tiger biting a turtle, no room to get in.
Greed? They will most likely have that but how was he possibly going to satisfy a magician?
The opposite sex? The young Duke’s only 15 years old … … And it’s said that he even rejected the number one beauty of the empire.
Fame? He already had that down.
Power? Bloody hell, he’s a Duke for goodness sake!
Boldness? From his actions thus far in the Northwest, it’s most definitely true he’s a bold person.
Cowardly? Seems like it too since he backed off from the Northwest Army…..
Cautious? Yes, he’s on the cautious side. At least from the administrative perspective, he’s managed to maintain control over an entire province with merely 20,000 troops….. For a young men of his age, that’s a very difficult task.
Reckless? Definitely reckless! Waltzing into the Northwest Army’s base alone….. That’s clearly reckless to the extreme!
Finally, Hamuye came to a conclusion that nearly drove him crazy:
This opponent, Duke Tulip, was someone that’s not greedy, not perverted, with immense fame, completely bold in his actions, super cautious, and utterly reckless…..
This … … What kind of fucking bullshit conclusion is this!
If anything, the only chip Hamuye had to work with here was that the military friction happened on the Duke’s land – Desa Province.
Maybe this kid would favor war due to his anger…. Or maybe back off due to cowardice.
…. That’s still not enough to go on!
With a sense of dread, Hamuye finally arrived in Loulan City of the Desa Province.
Back when he was heading to the imperial capital for negotiation, he intentionally bypassed this city in order to avoid trouble. However, the first reaction he got when he first laid eyes on this place was:
The Northwest actually had such a grand city?!
Though the rumor of the “three month build one city” spread quite quickly, but this world nevertheless had no television. Whether it was true or not, it certainly left those that didn’t witness it first hand with some doubts.
And now that Hamuye finally got the chance to see this city in person, he really had to gasp at the sight: “Is this city really built in three months?”
“Humph … … I bet it wasn’t actually three months. Roland People are known to be deceitful.”
While Hamuye remained in his carriage and his convoy heavily guarded by soldiers, it wasn’t hard for him to faintly sense the hostility coming from the people’s eye.
“Hmm … … If the people are like this then the leader shouldn’t be too far off.”
Hamuye didn’t take it to heart over the civilian’s attitude because his mind was too busy wondering what kind of attitude should be appropriate when meeting the Duke. Friendly or aggressive?
Finally, his convoy arrives in front of the Duke’s castle with both sides of the street heavily blocked off by soldiers. With his carriage stopping in front of the suspension bridge, Hamuye got off his carriage with the help of two of his young guards before taking a closer look at the officials that came to greet him.
Wearing his official outfit, Dadaneier came right up to introduce himself: “Emissary, please come with me.”
At the reception, Hamuye was slightly resentful. Even if the Duke himself wasn’t going to come out to greet him, they should at least send a deputy and not a simple leader of the city defense. What, is he deliberately doing this to spite him?
Following Dadaneier into the castle, Hamuye was eventually brought into a luxurious reception room. Right before entering, he was still somewhat looking forward to meeting his opponent that looked down at himself. Unfortunately, the first thing that welcomed him when he pushed the door open was…..
A forth rightful looking fatty.
When the two made eye contact, this big fatty quickly stood up and gave Hamuye a big hearty hug like they were close friends.
“What a pleasure to have an old friend coming to visit! It’s a shame this is not the prairie, otherwise we can get some good horse milk wine for entertainment!”
Hamuye became somewhat confused by the warm welcoming. After taking a step back, he managed to figure out who the fatty was: “Oh … … Why isn’t it General Longbottom! It’s been so many years yet your body is still so strong! I heard you joined the Tulip family. Looking back at things, we wouldn’t have gotten to know each other if not for our fights!”
Longbottom smiled like a careless ingrate as he dragged Hamuye into the reception hall. Once seated, Hamuye scanned the surroundings before asking: “May I know where the Duke is?”
“Oh, our Duke’s been busy since last night on a new set of magic equipment. Therefore, he told me to receive you in his place today.” Longbottom laughed wholeheartedly: “Friend, you know our Duke is a magician so it’s natural he would have odd habits. Don’t worry, we are old friends, feel free to speak your mind!”
Brimming with displeasure, Hamuye had no choice but to suppress it: “In that case, I might as well go back to rest. When the Duke is free, we’ll sit down and talk.”
“Don’t rush, don’t rush!” Longbottom grinned and pulled out a document from inside his robe. Wrinkled and smelly, it looked like it was drenched in sweat when placed atop of the table: “His Dukeship already mentioned this. Despite the friction between the empire and the people of the prairie, the friendship between our people is too deep to be tarnished by a simple misunderstanding. Since were such good friends, why not sit down and talk?”
“Now that’s more like it!” Hamuye murmured, “This is……” Looking at the crumpled document which gave off a nauseating smell, Hamuye frowned.
“This is our Duke’s first draft of the agreement. We are all good friends; we should just forget this little misunderstanding. His Dukeship already said: big problems should turn into small problems. Small problems should turn into nothing. Friend isn’t supposed to care about these things.”
“Agreement?” Enduring the impulse to throw up, Hamuye picked up the agreement to have a look. With only one glance, he immediately flew into a rage and slammed the table: “Longbottom! Is the Duke messing with me here!!”
“It’s clearly written here in this “agreement” that as the instigator of the tension between both parties, the prairie must compensate the empire: 30,000 horses, 50,000 cattle, slaves 5,000, and the cost of rebuilding Anglia City…..”
“Longbottom!” Hamuye fumes with anger: “It seems the Duke is not sincere enough to have our peace talk. In that case, there’s no reason for me to be here and endure this farce!”
Longbottom rubbed his nose, the smile fading from his face: “Hamuye, have you ever seen me kid around like this after spending so many years in the Northwest?”
With that, he stood up: “I’m only doing as I was ordered. My job is done. If you must leave then I won’t keep you…. But the Duke did say Lord Hamuye is a wise man. Taking into account the friendship between both sides, I’m sure you wouldn’t be rash. Moreover, this thing isn’t set in stone. We can always talk things over….. Why don’t you take this with you and look it over tonight….. Whatever you don’t accept, you can take it up with the Duke when you two meet.”
Hamuye’s mind suddenly calms down … … “Humph, this Duke Tulip looks to be in the pro-war faction with a strong stance….. Whatever, a strong stance is also a method of negotiation.”
Think up to here, he instead started to laugh: “Fine then, I’ll keep this for now. When tomorrow comes around, the Duke and I can slowly talk things over.”
With that, Hamuye fights to keep his anger down while maintaining a strong smile on his face: “Then please excuse me. I’m exhausted from all the traveling; may I know where I’ll be staying tonight?”
Longbottom laughed: “Old friend, our Duke is a hospitable person and would never snub a friend! Arrangements are in place and will definitely please you!”
With that, this fatty personally led Hamuye through the backdoor and into the “specially prepared” resting location.
Originally Hamuye could still endure the humiliation, but the second he laid his eyes on the Duke’s so called “hospitality”, he nearly lost it!
Longbottom continues on with his warm smile: “The Duke said he respects the mightiness of the prairie men. We know your people aren’t accustomed to living inside a building; therefore, we racked our brains out and came up with this idea! The Duke said the highest level in entertaining a guest is to make them feel right at home. Don’t you think this method is perfect? Old friend, can it be you’re not happy?”
Right before the two in the back of the castle grounds, a bunch of tents were erected on the plain hard ground. Looking at how poorly made these makeshift tents were, it’s definitely leaking air…..
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