How to Live as a Wandering Knight โ€“ Chapter 172

๐„๐ฑ๐œ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐๐š๐ง๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ญ (1)

While such sinister proposals were being exchanged on one side, Leoanos was having similar thoughts.ย 

Originally, the tradition of Vynashchtym was assassination and rebellion. It was customary to assassinate when the opponent showed a gap and rebel when popularity declined.

The old royal Leoanos could not have not known this.

When the armies of the emperor, republic, and counts clashed with the armies of the pagans, Leoanos was confused about who to cheer for.ย 

It would be troublesome if the pagan b*stards won, and it would be troublesome if the emperor won. . .

It would be better if both were devastated enough to annihilate each other.

But the situation flowed opposite to expectations. The emperorโ€™s army endured and repelled the fierce attack of the pagan army. Negotiations followed, and the pagan army left miserably.

โ”๐–๐ก๐ฒ ๐๐ข๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฌ๐ž ๐๐š๐ฆ๐ง ๐๐จ๐ ๐ฌ ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ฌ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ž๐ซ๐œ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ? ๐‚๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค! ๐‚๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ง๐จ ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ!

Leoanos was flabbergasted. The pagan army was one of the fiercest he had ever experienced. The guys who didnโ€™t care if their comrades fell and stacked corpses to climb the fortress walls.

How could guys like that give up and retreat after just one battle?

โ”๐‹๐ž. . .๐‹๐ž๐จ๐š๐ง๐จ๐ฌ-๐ ๐จ๐ง๐ . ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐ค๐ง๐จ๐ฐ ๐ข๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐›๐ฅ๐ž.

Upon hearing his subordinatesโ€™ words, Leoanos regained his composure. He had failed to restrain himself due to accumulating misfortunes.ย ย 

His subordinates were right. He could no longer call back those who had left. Moreover, if he really called them back, the fortress soldiers would not sit still.

Leoanos, itโ€™s okay to run away if things donโ€™t work out, but from the soldiersโ€™ perspective, it was crazy nonsense.

โ”๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐Œ๐š๐ฃ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐จ๐ง๐ž. ๐“๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐›๐ž ๐š ๐œ๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐›๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐›๐š๐ง๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ญ ๐ข๐ง ๐“๐š๐ค๐ž๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐ข๐œ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ. ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฌ๐ค๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ง๐.

โ”. . .๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐จ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ญ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐š๐ฆ๐›๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ก ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ, ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ?

They had similar concerns that it might be a relative or something. Leoanos worried about assassination first.

โ”๐’๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ. . . ๐’๐ข๐ซ ๐‹๐ž๐จ๐š๐ง๐จ๐ฌ, ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐›๐ž ๐›๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ ๐ฎ๐š๐ซ๐๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ, ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ?

At his subordinateโ€™s words, Leoanos nodded. He would also bring skilled guards with him. He had caught dozens of them disguised as rogues before. He could notice anything more than that first, and. . .

โ”๐˜๐จ๐ฎโ€™๐ซ๐ž ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ. ๐ˆ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ . ๐˜๐ž๐ฌ. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐จ๐ซ ๐œ๐š๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐š๐œ๐ญ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐š๐ซ๐›๐ข๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ. ๐‡๐จ๐ฐโ€™๐ฌ ๐ก๐ž ๐ ๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐ž๐š๐ฅ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐š๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ก? ๐–๐ก๐จ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐‹๐ž๐จ๐š๐ง๐จ๐ฌ. . .

โ”๐“๐ก๐š๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ. ๐ˆ๐Ÿ ๐’๐ข๐ซ ๐‹๐ž๐จ๐š๐ง๐จ๐ฌ ๐ก๐š๐ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ง ๐œ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ข๐ฆ, ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ž๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ. ๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐œ๐ก ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฅ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ซ ๐›๐ซ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ, ๐ข๐ง ๐Ÿ๐š๐œ๐ญ.

โ”. . .

โ”๐ƒ-๐ƒ๐ข๐ ๐ˆ ๐ฌ๐š๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐ ?

โ”๐๐จ. ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฌ๐š๐ข๐ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ ๐จ๐จ๐. ๐‚๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐š๐œ๐ข๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ง ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฑ๐œ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐œ๐ฎ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฌ.

๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ

The viceroy looked very happy. The pagans were leaving, and Johanโ€™s army had promised to stay for a few more months.ย ย 

โ€œBut Iโ€™m counting on you for the customs duties.โ€

โ€œIsnโ€™t that a given? Trust me.โ€

Johan managed to secure tax exemptions for the merchant ships coming and going from the port. The goods transported by sea were on a different scale from land routes, and the associated duties constituted tremendous income.

The privilege of tax exemption was not something just anyone could get.

โ€œItโ€™ll come out eventually, but please donโ€™t tell the republicans for now.โ€

โ€œOf course. Do you think I have no tact?โ€

Johan wrapped up a good deal with the viceroy, mutually beneficial.ย ย 

โ€œClean up the corpses and sprinkle black powder and medicinal herbs so monsters donโ€™t come. Itโ€™s a headache when monsters get tangled up.โ€

After a major battle, powerful monsters tended to appear nearby. Ignorant people would prattle on about โ€˜๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜จ๐˜ณ๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด,โ€™ but to Johan it seemed because there was ample prey.ย ย 

It would be stranger if they didnโ€™t grow when thereโ€™s so much to eat.

โ”๐†๐ซ๐ซ๐ซ!

โ€œRight on target.โ€

Johan and the centaurs went around exterminating monsters. Karamaf sniffed out monsters hiding in wait.ย ย 

It was best to eliminate threats that could harm the city prematurely. Besides, creatures like these made for good shows of force to the city.

โ€œSir Knight, do you by any chance have plans to go to Vynashchtym?โ€

Vynashchtym was the name of the empire and also its capital. Johan looked puzzled by Achladdaโ€™s question and answered.

โ€œWhy Vynashchtym?โ€

โ€œIt must be so, since I heard it was the city within the city.โ€ย ย 

โ€œEven if we raid it, we probably canโ€™t take anything. I heard its walls have never fallen.โ€

โ€œWhat? Do you think Iโ€™m asking if I can just raid it unconditionally? Do you think Iโ€™m only interested in raids? Of course Iโ€™m only interested in raids, but. . .โ€

Achladda trailed off, seemingly embarrassed by what he just said.

โ€œI was just curious. And I heard rumors that the emperor there covets Sir Knightโ€™s skills. I wondered if you might be hired to go there. The Vynashchtym often do that, donโ€™t they?โ€

The weak Vynashchtym often hired external mercenaries. Nobles and mercenary captains from small kingdoms and republics, and sometimes even aristocrats from the Orthodoxy would do so.ย 

The emperorโ€™s elite guards, known for their loyalty, were also descendants of those external mercenaries.

โ€œThere were such rumors? I didnโ€™t really get that sense. . . Rather, the viceroy was the one coveting me.โ€

Johan was skeptical. He hadnโ€™t gotten that sense from the emperorโ€™s attitude.

โ€œBesides, just hiring some of the soldiers for a year costs a fortune. Unless his gold was rotting away, thereโ€™d be no reason to hire more. โ€œ

The mercenaries Johan had brought were expensive. Dwarves, trained slave soldiers, eastern mounted archers โ€“ they were irreplaceable elite forces.ย 

Also, there were many well-armed, experienced mercenaries, like the skilled Gorgale Mercenary Group and illegitimate children from Akiten who owned multiple horses.

Unless the enemy forces were swarming the walls like now, thereโ€™d be no need to specially hire those expensive mercenaries. With that money, Johan could have hired numerous cheaper mercenaries.

โ€œIs that so. . . Oh, isnโ€™t that the guy?โ€

โ€œWhich guy are you referring to?โ€

โ€œThe one who insulted you. There arenโ€™t many who have insulted you, right?โ€

Achladda was pointing at Leoanosโ€™s procession. He remembered the emblem on the flag of the envoy Leoanos had sent earlier.

โ€œLooks like he came after getting invited.โ€

โ€œThat b*stard who should get trampled under hooves, where is he getting the nerve to shamelessly show his face. . .โ€

More than Johan, the other centaurs like Achladda were agitated. Invited or not, they looked ready to charge down and shoot arrows at them immediately.ย 

Johan restrained them.

โ€œDonโ€™t threaten them unprompted when theyโ€™ve come after getting invited.โ€

โ€œWe were just hunting here. Who knows what nonsense theyโ€™re thinking.โ€

The centaurs glared threateningly down the hill at the processions. Those approaching noticed them and flinched.

โ€œWhy are there centaurs here?โ€

โ€œI heard theyโ€™re count Yeatsโ€™s subordinates.โ€

โ€œ. . .โ€

They wanted to say something about that temper, but the attendants couldnโ€™t bring themselves to. They were cowed by the centaursโ€™ imposing manner. Whatโ€™s more, Johanโ€™s reputation made it hard for them to act lightly.ย ย 

They meekly bowed their heads and passed by.

Johan briefly considered going over to Leoanos and greeting them, but decided against it. They would soon be crushed according to the emperorโ€™s plan anyway, and Johan didnโ€™t feel positively enough about them to bother exchanging pleasantries.ย ย 

โ€˜๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ช๐˜ต, ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜บ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ. . .โ€™

It was only expected for high nobles to have a crowd of servants, maids, and entertainers.

Johan had only heard rumors, but he knew of nobles taking nearly a hundred servants, jesters, courtesans, and concubines with them even on campaigns.

Still, Johanโ€™s eyes picked out those among the entourage with a swordsmanโ€™s bearing.ย ย 

Muscles developed differently, steps seemingly light yet firmly balanced โ€“ these were traits unique to prosecutor, not obvious at a glance.ย ย 

Johan also sensed it intuitively first before thinking it through. It wasnโ€™t apparent from the start.

โ€˜๐˜“๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ง๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜๐˜บ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ต๐˜บ๐˜ฎ? ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ค๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด.โ€™

๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ๐Ÿ”ธ

โ€œAh. They are from the Silk Corridor, arenโ€™t they?โ€ย 

The viceroy had Johan sit in the seat of honor and then ordered the slaves to fan him. His deferential attitude as he waited was like that between a retainer and his lord.

After popping a piece of fruit in his mouth, Johan wiped his hands on silk and asked,ย 

โ€œSince Iโ€™m not from Vynashchtym, I wouldnโ€™t know, so why do you say that?โ€

โ€œMy apologies, Your Excellency. They are excellent performers. And dancers as well.โ€

The capital had several massive theaters. The oldest and largest was nicknamed the Silk Corridor. It was because of the unique silks hanging on the walls of the corridor.ย ย 

Although it was a theater, it was run with rules like those of a temple or monastery. They took oaths when joining and were locked inside to receive a closed education. According to rumors, these were vestiges of native faiths from before the Advent.

In any case, due to these rules, they were outstanding actors and dancers. To say someone was from the Corridor meant they were a recognized performer in Vynashchtym.

โ€œTheater is. . . isnโ€™t it clumsy priests and monks coming out and stumbling over their lines?โ€

The Holy Empire had theater as well. Usually priests and monks dressed up clumsily and put on edifying plays with terrible acting.ย 

When he was young, Johan had helped out a priest and participated before.

โ€œHeh heh. . . Your Excellency, not like the primitive theater done by rural bumpkins in the Holy Empire. We truly enjoy sophisticated secular and satirical plays.โ€

Seeing the viceroy babbling excitedly, Johan asked with pure curiosity.

โ€œDid you forget Iโ€™m from the Holy Empire?โ€

โ€œI-Iโ€™m sorry. Iโ€™m very sorry.โ€

The viceroy who had momentarily lost his composure hurriedly apologized. Of all times for the pride of a Vynashchtym person to flare up.

โ€œIn any case, so theyโ€™re actors? The atmosphere seemed off for that.โ€ย ย 

โ€œYou are perceptive, Your Excellency. The actors from the Silk Corridor are also excellent swordsmen.โ€

โ€œActors and yet. . .?โ€

โ€œThey are masters of swordsmanship as well.โ€

Like monks training swordsmanship within the monastery, they did the same. It wasnโ€™t that surprising for those of other professions to learn the sword.

โ€˜๐˜๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜บ?โ€™

After hearing the viceroyโ€™s explanation, Johan realized the chamberlain had also been quite attentive in bringing escorts. Not just soldiers, but the pages had also been chosen as ones skilled in swordsmanship.

He suddenly thought the feast might not go as smoothly as the emperor anticipated. It seemed the will to not be easily cowed had already been felt.

Of course the emperor probably also knew guards had been brought like this. . .

โ€œHmm. Maybe I should hide some soldiers as well.โ€

The banquet was held in tents pitched near the city, and you had to leave your weapons before entering. The emperor had hidden guards with swords in nearby tents, planning to ambush and finish off Leoanos.ย 

If things went according to plan, even if Leoanos brought some guards, he would be going โ€œOh, ohโ€ before dying, but world events never unfold as expected, as he had experienced many times.

โ€œA good idea. Just give me a signal and Iโ€™ll draw my sword and go in.โ€

โ€œDwarves. . . no, centaurs. . . no, I donโ€™t like elves.โ€

โ€œ. . .โ€

Iselia sulked. However, Johan did not change his mind. Elven mercenaries stood out too much, and it was difficult to expect patience from them.

โ€œItโ€™s better to pick from the slave soldiers.โ€

The slave soldiers were generally young, so they could be thrown in anywhere credibly. They fit in well enough as servants or slaves.

โ€œI understand. Then just give the signal and Iโ€™ll. . .โ€

โ€œIselia. You need to be by my side. Why are you trying to take on that kind of role?โ€

โ€œI. . . I can fight better than the others, so. . .โ€

โ€œIf you put it that way, then I should be the one hiding in the back. Theyโ€™ll ask where youโ€™ve gone if youโ€™re not there, so you have to be by my side.โ€

โ€œ!โ€

Johan inserted slave soldiers among his retinue. They could skillfully procure weapons once inside anyway.ย 

โ€˜๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ.โ€™

โ€œMy dear, just in case, wouldnโ€™t it be better to strongly insist on bringing a sword inside?โ€

โ€œDonโ€™t worry, itโ€™ll be fine. I have a belt I can use as a sword.โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t think Iโ€™ve seen you use it before. . .?โ€

โ€œThere just hasnโ€™t been an occasion to use it yet.โ€

โ€œAh, I see.โ€ย 

Iselia accepted it readily.

This time, Johan thought that if a situation arose, he should fight in a way that preserved some dignity.

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