Chapter 289 “Nothing to be gallant about” (Part one)
Originally Du Wei also worried about those Xieni guys not giving up and would try for another roadside killing again, but the following afternoon his subordinates came to report there appears to be a team of knights following their ship on both sides of the river.
Coming out of his cabin and up the deck, Du Wei promptly saw the Holy Knights in silver armor, armed and riding along the river bank in parallel to Du Wei’s group. At first he frowned, but then Maximos came out and smiled at him, explaining: “Duke, these Holy Knights are from the Heishan faction. They are here to protect us.”
He then went on to explain that due to his ship being wrecked after the first attack, he used the Temple’s special method of transmitting information back to the capital and requested for aid. These Holy Knights should be the safety precautions sent from the Heishan faction to protect him.
The Heishan faction has always advocated neutrality, recognizing only the standard of the law and not the person, justifiably fair in that regard. No matter how bloody the fight between the Mosa faction and the Xieni faction becomes, they will not get involved even if death occurs. However, if the Xieni faction continues to attempt an assassination on the archbishop while under their protection, the members of the Heishan faction will absolutely not allow it.
This group of Holy Knights consisted of approximately a hundred knights. After Du Wei’s men waved them down with their flag, he sent one of his smaller boats to the shore and received the leader of this company.
Out of Du Wei’s expectation, this leading knight was incredibly an eighth level master knight. Ever since Hussein rebelled two years ago, as one of the top three knights in the order and the one responsible for slaying the other two knight leaders, some of the strongest knights remaining was only at the eighth level.
For the Temple to send out an eighth level knight on this mission, it’s obvious the Heishan faction regards Maximos as a person of great importance.
This eighth level knight was clearly a person of indifference. Upon boarding the ship, this person remains emotionless in his salute and only uttered a set of dry words to brief the bishop on his order of protect him until they reach the capital. In addition, towards Maximos’s expression of gratitude, the knight actually reacted like he was ungrateful and only replied with a soft mutter: “The responsibility is mine, bishop need not be polite.”
To call this fellow lukewarm was an understatement. Against Du Wei, a duke, this knight had little to no respect and only nodded before turning away. Afraid Du Wei would be angry at the disregarding attitude, Maximos was the first to step in to explain: “Duke, please don’t blame him for the lack of etiquette. These fellows from the Heishan faction are always like this. They advocate harsh training so they don’t hold much care for secular things like status and power. For the people of the Temple, we’ve been long accustomed to these monsters from the Heishan faction. Privately, they’ve been given a nickname by us. Rather than calling them the Heishan faction, it’s more suited to call them ‘black faced’ faction.”
(Heishan and black face sounds very similar in chinese so it’s like a rhyme)
Well Du Wei’s not the vitriolic type to hold grudges. Besides, after learning all the dirty secrets of the Temple, his view towards these Heishan fellas that advocates harsh training for self-cultivation was in fact the most favorable among the three big factions.
If every member of the Temple was like the Heishan faction, then this world wouldn’t have to face so much trouble.
Thinking of this, Du Wei’s sight fell upon the mounted knights moving slowly in parallel to his ship, his mind falling into a trance without his notice….
With the Holy Knights of the Heishan faction as their protector, the following trip became exceedingly peaceful. The Xieni faction likely knows it’s not possible to carry out their plot at this point so the plan for assassination was likely dropped.
On the contrary, in addition to the reception on the first day, that eighth level master knight never once boarded his ship again in the comings days as if he’s constantly on alert.
For the first time Du Wei can say he has gained his first glimpse into the harsh training style of these members of the Heishan faction. On the course of the next few days aboard his ship, Du Wei naturally lived well and ate well without exerting himself in any way. But these hundred or so knights had always remained by their side as an escort, never leaving their sight, not even once to the point where they would eat and sleep atop of their horses! For three days and three nights, they carried out their duties impeccably as if they are men of steel!
Du Wei may be living in comfort, but he had to admire these guys. It’s as Maximos says, aside from carrying out harsh training, Du Wei must add another word to their name, ‘abusive’.
During his chats with Maximos, this old bishop was also frank in his words. Although the Holy Knights had long been infiltrated by both the Xieni faction and the Mosa faction, but the backbone of the Holy Knights are comprised mainly of the members of the Heishan faction. Towards the knights that was bordering on the line of being masochistic, it’s only natural the knights that endures the harshest training would achieve the strongest strength.
Heaven rewards the diligent; this truth remains true whether it be the ancient times or the modern era.
After so many days of travel, his ship finally docks in a small pier about thirty miles away from the capital city. Once on land, Du Wei and his entourage abandoned the waters and took to the horses for the remaining trip.
Naturally, Bishop Maximos would ride with Du Wei in the same carriage, but when this old man saw the coachman was a dark skinned slave from the islands of the southeastern sea, he could not resist being amazed by the sight. After all, Du Wei hails from an old aristocratic family. Whether it be a horse groomer or a servant, these type of old generational noblemen would mostly choose from a strict line of trusted branch families or aids that had been in the clan for a long time. In the end it’s all about appearances and status.
Towards a travel distance of thirty miles, one day was enough for them to arrive at the west gate. Illuminated by the setting sun, this imposing yet mighty fortification wall gave off a faint brilliance as if a paint of gold was washed over the surface. Watching this magnificent scene, Du Wei could not resist being stirred by emotions. To think this was his second time returning to the capital. The first time he was still a disfavored son of his father, but now, he returns as a Duke with massive military power. Meanwhile, his father was back at home, dethroned from his title and rank.
Thinking of this fact, Du Wei can’t help but make a deep bittersweet sigh at the irony.
Seeing Du Wei sigh from the side, Maximos can’t help but ask: “Duke seems to be in a bad mood.”
Du Wei smiled in return: “Your grace, I’m just a little down about the cycle of life. One day you are high and mighty, the next you are down in the trough. You see this majestic city in front of us? How many heroes and influential figures have treaded this path in the thousand year history of the empire, yet none of those individuals, success or failure, can endure the passage of time.”
Maximos was taken aback by Du Wei’s thought pattern. The Duke in front of him was but a young man, yet the words coming out of him should only be found in the wisdom of the old. It’s truly unfathomable to speculate what was going on in that bleak mentality, “Duke, we of the Mosa faction believes in a saying ‘there’s no eternal right or wrong, only the eternal truth’.”
Musing over his word, Du Wei laughs after a brief moment: “That saying is very reasonable. After all, the Mosa faction is different from the Xieni faction whose doctrine is too extreme. Likely due to their obsessive rigidly to a moment of right or wrong, they are blind to the truth. This is a good lesson. Like this majestic wall in front of us, this here is the truth, unyieldingly unchanged through the ages while the influential figures disappear. Whether you are right or wrong, up or down, none of it matters for everything will disappear with time.”
Smiling, Maximos looks at Du Wei: “Your grace, you are indeed clever. If a smart character like yourself becomes a follower of the goddess, it will be the honor of the Mosa faction.”
Naturally Du Wei would make a sincere smile at that, but inwardly, he was crying slut goddess that sleeps with a thousand men.
Before their horses even reach the city’s west gate, the place was already crowded with soldiers to receive them. Aligned neatly into two adjacent rows next to each other, approximately a thousand security soldiers were in formation. And directly below the gate were a hundred or so royal guards led by a dozen or so individuals dressed in luxurious clothes.
As soon as Du Wei’s entourage approached, a band of the honor guards atop of the wall immediately blew the trumpet, raising the triumphant tune normally reserved for only a war hero returning from his battle.
This was the unique horn call of the imperial army so Du Wei would of course recognize the music. Hurrying to stop his carriage, he peers out to find the majority of the people in that small group waiting for him below the west gate were either aristocrats, dignitaries, ministers, or military representatives. Seeing this, he cannot help but be surprised inside.
Before he can say a word, a loud voice came from afar: “Duke, you are finally here! We’ve been waiting for a good half of the day already. You see that Taklanshan fatty over there? He’s been screaming bloody murder for hours now. If you don’t arrive soon, I fear he might have given up and ran off to look for a warm place to rest.”
Now this time Du Wei really was shocked!
It was already the end of the year, a season of cold. Although the first fall of snow wasn’t here yet, the climate remains very cold with constant bursts of bone chilling wind from the north. Among the group were some of his old friends, Earl Biliaibuer and that weapons merchant Taklanshan. Aside from that, there’s the financial minister Baron Sack, formerly the security chief of the capital. Due to his willingness to give up his authority in the security department after the coup, Baron Sack managed to win the favor of Prince Son and was entrusted with the financial minister post. And standing beside him was that “undercover spy” Kami Siro, also the one that spent huge sums of money to order that overly luxurious looking armor from Du Wei’s shop.
As for the rest, they are all trusted individuals of Prince Son’s inner circle and hold a certain amount of power in the capital.
For all these people to brave the cold wind and stand in front of the gate just to greet him, Du Wei honestly didn’t expect his face to be so big to warrant such a grand reception.
He may be a duke, but he’s honestly not in the position to put on air against so many people like this. Hurrying to abandon his carriage, he strode over in wide steps using the warmest smile he can muster: “HAHAHA, this is too overwhelming to have so many high figures standing at the gate to meet me. I Du Wei can’t even express my gratitude right now.”
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