How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 16.2

𝐊𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭, 𝐌𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐭, 𝐌𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲, 𝐒𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞 (𝟏)

When the task was finished, the sun was rising. Sunlight began to shine into the forest. ‘𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦, 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵. 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦.

𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘐 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘦?

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘪𝘵𝘻 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺’𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘧𝘥𝘰𝘮 𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦. 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺, 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘣𝘺. 𝘐𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘧 𝘐 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦.’

It didn’t seem like Johan would be pursued, and even if he was, what technology of this era could find him? Once Johan changed his name and settled down, it would be practically impossible.

‘𝘚𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳.’

A little further to the west was the Erlans Kingdom, and descending the great Dwarf Mountains to the south, there were free cities outside the Emperor’s influence.

‘𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭.’

I would rather fight armed soldiers than climb a freezing, snowy mountain barehanded. I didn’t want to die in an avalanche or by falling.

‘𝘐𝘧 𝘐 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘵, 𝘐’𝘭𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦’𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘸𝘢𝘺. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘧𝘦.

𝘉𝘺 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘪𝘵𝘻 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯, 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘸𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥. 𝘏𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩. 𝘊𝘪𝘳𝘤𝘶𝘮𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘸𝘰.’

The ancient empire’s highway, maintained for over a thousand years, was a lifeline and a guidepost for travelers across the continent. 70-80% of the Empire’s land was forests and mountains, and roaming here was like offering one’s life to monsters.

Travelers, merchants, nobles, vagabonds, thieves, mercenaries, all traveled along this highway.

It would take Johan 2 to 3 days to break through the Black Forest and escape westward.

Even if mercenaries who knew Johan’s face came towards Erlans Kingdom, they would take the highway above the Black Forest and come around, taking at least a week to two weeks.

That was enough time to shake them off. If Johan kept moving on the highway, the gap would widen, and by then, it would be unlikely to meet again on this vast continent.

‘𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘦.’

━𝐊𝐫𝐞𝐮𝐧𝐠?

“Hmm. It seems you shouldn’t follow. Carrying you around might cause misunderstandings. To call you a dog. . . you’re too big for that.”

Many had hunting dogs, but a black wolf was clearly not a dog, even to the blind. Where would one find such a dog?

“I’m sorry.”

━𝐊𝐫𝐞𝐮𝐧𝐠

The black wolf nodded its head and then started to back away and disappear. Johan took a breath of relief and went to find his tied horse. He was curious about the town’s situation, but now he needed to stand out as much as possible.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

Even for someone like Johan, spending three days alone camping and navigating through the forest was a mentally exhausting ordeal.

‘𝘋𝘢𝘮𝘯 𝘪𝘵.’

Only when the forest ended and a distant road became visible could Johan finally sigh in relief. He had managed because he had learned well from Joseph; otherwise, he might have panicked, lost his way, and perished in the forest.

The knowledge of a hunter.

It was all about the actions one must take in the forest.

Starting a fire, finding a suitable spot for the campsite (fiefdom), scattering herbs snakes dislike, and preserving body heat.

━𝐀 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐝.

Joseph had said so, but Johan found it hard to believe.

Having to camp alone, he slept only half-awake, always ready to move and kept his weapon close. He removed his chainmail to sleep but reluctantly wore the rest. His physical strength wasn’t an issue for activity, but he was mentally exhausted.

And to use the forest as one’s bed?

“I could never be a hunter.”

Of course, Joseph’s words were somewhat exaggerated. And hunters usually didn’t enter the forest alone.

His joints cracked. Stroking his stubbled chin, Johan thought he’d like to lie down and drink some cheap, watery beer.

“!”

From the other end of the road, he saw a group with two carriages approaching. Loaded with goods, they were clearly merchants.

“Lucky me.”

It was better to travel with a group than alone. It would lessen any unnecessary suspicion.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“Huh? A knight!”

“What? Really?”

The mercenaries guarding the merchant froze in shock. A knight, of all things.

The idea that knights were honorable and adhered to chivalry was mere propaganda among them. To mercenaries, knights were ruthless warriors best avoided.

These were warriors of a different class, trained rigorously from a young age, possessing superior strength and quality equipment, unlike mercenaries who merely survived the battlefield by clutching any weapon they could.

If one mercenary could take on ten serfs, then one knight could handle ten mercenaries.

“Why worry? It’s not like we’ll clash with a knight.”

“Oh, this naive fool. . . If your head is empty, at least keep your mouth shut. You have no idea how brutal knights can be.”

The youngest and most inexperienced mercenary’s words earned him reprimands from the others.

Why would a knight be here for no reason?

Two possibilities came to mind.

If the opposing knight cared even slightly about honor, he might be collecting tolls. And if he didn’t care at all. . .

‘𝘙𝘰𝘣𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘺!’

There were knights who would kill every merchant and traveler passing through their territory, stealing their goods. It was outrageous yet a convenient business model.

Within their own lands, they were the masters with no one to challenge them, and their opponents were typically weaker than their own followers. . .

It was akin to reaping benefits without effort.

The mercenaries swallowed hard and looked around nervously. The dim forest seemed intimidating, as if hiding ambushers.

“Milord Eldans. We have no intention of fighting a knight.”

The captain of the small band of mercenaries, less than ten, cautiously spoke to their employer. He was a man trying to keep his promises, driven by ambitions of rising higher. Even if they fled, moving to another city was an option, but it would mean losing all the groundwork he had laid.


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