How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 177

𝐑𝐨𝐚𝐝 𝐇𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 (4)

Johan’s question about whether there was really much difference between dragon beastmen and snake beastmen was not entirely incorrect.  

Except for the very drunk in Vynashchtym, no one would make such remarks, but from a distance their appearance with ears and head hair covered makes it hard not to mistake them.

The knights of the Order of St. Guntsalva mistakenly identified Jyanina when they saw her appearance.  

“Hey. Tell that noble one over there our name.”

“Yes.”

The knights sent a servant to speak to Jyanina. The servant addressed Jyanina in the ancient imperial language. Of course, Jyanina did not understand.

“■■■■ ■■■■, ■■ ■■ ■■■ ■■■. . .”

“. . .?????”

Jyanina’s face turned pale. The Vynashchtym guys were incomprehensible in their stubbornness in using the language of those who perished in ancient times long ago.  

As Jyanina kept silent and only bowed her head, the servant misunderstood her intention and retreated apologetically.

“What was that about?”

Johan, who was just returning, was puzzled to see the servant address Jyanina and then retreat. Since Jyanina had no particular connection to the Vynashchtym nobles, why would someone approach her first?

“We exchanged brief greetings.”

“Can’t she understand the ancient imperial language? Then how. . .?”

“. . .”

Johan was sharper than Jyanina had thought. Caught right away, Jyanina blushed and said,  

“Actually, he just said something over there and left on his own. . .”

“He must have thought you were too shy to reply.”

“Oh. . .”

Jyanina was relieved. It was good that the other party misunderstood like that. It counted as saving face, didn’t it?

‘𝘍𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘰𝘯, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘦, 𝘐 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘩𝘶𝘵.’

“I wonder why he spoke to you in the first place.”  

Johan approached the Vynashchtym knights. When the knight from the Holy Empire fluently addressed them in the ancient imperial language, they were surprised but willingly answered.

After Johan introduced himself, the knights were astonished. 

“Has His Majesty employed Count you?”

“That’s right.”

Johan was not just a foreign noble, but a captain of the imperial guard appointed by the emperor. This position, meaning “the one who wields the sword” in the ancient imperial language, was an honorable and symbolic one.

Even the proud and prideful young nobles from all over Vynashchtym had no choice but to be courteous. 

However, their eyes flashed with competitiveness, caution, and jealousy.

“I will also go hunting for the beast. It will be a good match.”

“. . .!”

When Johan said he would participate, their eyes grew even hotter.

“. . .In this hunt, I will show you how honorable the banner of the Order of St. Guntsalva is. Even you will have to admit it, Your Excellency.”  

They were already in front of the emperor after all. They could not afford to be judged inferior to an outsider. The knights were determined to make Johan have no choice but to admit defeat.

“Well, sure. . .I look forward to it.”

While the proper knightly response would have been to flame up equally hotly to match the knights’ ardent reactions, Johan had little reaction. He had already seen such reactions overflowing from the elven knights from Erlans.  

In fact, compared to the elven knights, the nobles of Vynashchtym had rather cool blood.

The Vynashchtym knights were a bit confused by Johan’s unexpected reaction. It takes two hands to clap after all. . .

“To tell the truth, while I’m going hunting on His Majesty’s orders, I don’t expect much chance of winning. The Order of St. Guntsalva’s reputation reaches even the Holy Empire, so going up against such knights in a monster hunt and expecting to win. . .how preposterous would that be?”

Of course, the Order of St. Guntsalva’s name was not actually famous at all in the Holy Empire. Even Vynashchtym’s emperor was barely known, so how could the name of a mere order of knights spread so far?

But no one disliked praise, and praise about honor and fame was all the sweeter.  

Compared to Johan, the nobles of the Order of St. Guntsalva was just brats. While they may have been a few years older, the extent of where they had lived was just their families’ fiefdoms and the area near the monastery. Such guys didn’t stand a chance against Johan’s glib tongue.

Their expressions instantly softened. Johan’s praise had melted their hearts.

“Is that really true?”

“What is?”

“That thing about the order’s name spreading to the Holy Empire. . .”

“Of course. Why would I lie about something like this?”

‘𝘋𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘬𝘪𝘥𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮?’

It was so easy from the position of the liar that it was bewildering. The guys who were just shouting ‘𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦!’ a moment ago were now fawning like puppies. . .

Of course, that was Johan’s perspective, while for the young nobles knights, it was different.  

A foreign noble with a position recognized by the emperor was praising and extolling them. The authority was on a different dimension, and so was the effect.

It was only natural for the young knights, who until now had only received praise from the serfs on their fiefdoms, to be thrilled.

‘𝘐𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘳?’

‘𝘛𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘖𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘵. 𝘎𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘷𝘢 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘰. . .!’

“No, you are excellent as well, Your Excellency.”

“That’s right. We may be familiar with the terrain here and have more experience, but you are certainly no less capable, Your Excellency.”

Now the knights had started encouraging Johan instead. Johan nodded, keeping his expression under control.

“With you saying that, I’m grateful. As expected, the Order of St. Guntsalva is as humble and impoverished. . .no, honorable as I had heard.”  

Johan had almost said impoverished but caught himself. In conscience that would have been somewhat true. And honestly it might have sounded sarcastic.

The knights didn’t notice at all and were happy.

Most foreigners who came to Vynashchtym tended to be unlucky or arrogant, but this Count seemed a little different.  

He seems to understand honor!

After that, Johan continued toying with the knights using plausible words. The knights were completely caught in his trap without even realizing it.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“It seems to be a manticore.”  

“!”

The young knights of the Order of St. Guntsalva lacked political sense, but they certainly had a lot of experience hunting monsters.  

Just from listening to the castle servants’ chatter, they were able to guess what kind of monster it was.

“How did you figure it out? I didn’t think they would tell you stuff like that?”

“Hmm. Well. They spoke well so I asked them nicely.”   

“???”

The centaurs were perplexed. The nobles here in Vynashchtym were a bit. . .lenient?  

Or if not lenient, then foolish, or they had some custom of sharing information about prey.

The manticore. It was one of the more violent and threatening monster beasts that appeared from time to time.  

A hideous human face, the body of a large beast, devil-like wings on its back, and a tail with sharp, venomous barbs that glinted dangerously.  

It was like all the threatening aspects of nature gathered together and fused into one creature.

And its personality was even more wicked than its physical form. Extremely violent, cunning and cruelty incarnate.  

“A manticore! We’ve never hunted one before.”  

The centaurs shouted in eager and tense voices. Manticores had never appeared around where they lived.

“Have those knights hunted one before?”

“No. The young ones say they haven’t. But there are records in the monastery that they plan to follow.”

For most people, encountering a monster like a manticore once in their life was considered a lot. It wasn’t strange that the young knights lacked experience.  

Fortunately, the monastery recorded everything. Records of battles with previous generations of knights became weapons for later knights.

“Your Excellency. Please give the order! We will follow.”

“Hmm. . .I was going to see what the knight b*stards planned to do first.”  

“. . .Yes?”

The centaurs were perplexed. Was this not Johan who ripped off a troll’s arm and strangled a werewolf to death? Why was he speaking so weakly?

“Um, aren’t you afraid they’ll die?”

“Since we know so little about the beast, I wanted to see them fight it once.”   

“But what if they get caught?”

“If they get caught, there’s nothing that can be done. But since they’re also inexperienced, I don’t think it’ll catch them that easily.”

The centaurs nodded. A manticore from legend wasn’t something you could catch just by reading a record once.  

It would probably take chasing it several times to figure it out.

“I was startled because I thought you were injured, Your Excellency. When you opened the gates, I thought you had overexerted yourself and were hurt. . .” 

“What did you think happened?”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“Mercenaries.” 

The Knights of St. Guntsalva were not fools. Of course they seemed a bit foolish in Johan’s eyes, but that was just how most young, inexperienced knights were. . .

Even though they had never caught a manticore, the fact that they had experience hunting various monsters was a great weapon.

There is a difference between a knight who has hunted monsters before and one who hasn’t.

Thus, the knights’ movements were systematic and seasoned. First of all, their skill in recruiting nearby mercenaries showed this.

‘𝘈𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘸 𝘧𝘰𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘳.’

He wondered if there was really any need to hire them when they weren’t professional monster hunters, but in fact the knights didn’t expect them to fulfill such a role.

Paying large sums to hire mercenaries was ultimately to use them as arrow fodder. 

To a monster, nobles and mercenaries are both equally appetizing prey.

“They look dissatisfied.”

“I wonder if the knights properly explained things to the mercenaries?” 

“Doesn’t seem like it.”

“This isn’t a fair deal.”

The emperor looked at the dozens of mercenaries setting up camp with dissatisfaction. The knights’ displeasure made him even more dissatisfied. 

“Should we go tell them?”

“No. . .we can’t do that.”

But regardless of his dissatisfaction, taking the mercenaries’ side was a different matter. Meddling and earning the knights’ ire would be madness.

“Hmm. No, I think it might not be so bad to tell them.”

“???”

The emperor was confused by Johan’s words. What was he thinking, telling the mercenaries?

“If it causes bigger problems somehow. . .”

“That’s only if you directly tell them and get directly caught.”

“Even you can’t get too friendly with the mercenaries. You’ll only get misunderstood. Stop.”

Just as nobles looked down on mercenaries, mercenaries didn’t trust nobles much either. Johan could only get misunderstood if he tried to show kindness. 

And weren’t mercenaries originally endlessly greedy? They were betrayers, even when shown consideration.

“Just watch.”

Johan dismounted his horse and walked over to where the mercenaries were. The emperor watched with slightly tense eyes.

The mercenaries looked at Johan with confusion and wariness. Of course they would be on guard when a man who looked like a high noble or knight approached them openly.

‘𝘚𝘦𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥.’

The emperor grumbled to himself. Those mercenary fools wouldn’t fall for an approach like this.

“. . .?!”

However, after a short while, the mercenaries burst into snickering laughter, clapping and slapping their knees as they guffawed. Johan must have said something quite funny.

Johan sat down naturally among them as if he were one of the mercenaries and started chattering away. Passing mercenaries also plopped down, wondering what he was talking about.

‘𝘐𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴. . .𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘤?’

The emperor rubbed his eyes. No matter how he looked, this seemed like magic. How did he integrate so easily among the difficult mercenaries?

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“Wow, Count is the first noble I’ve met so generous and open-minded. Are all the nobles from the Holy Empire like that?”

“I’m a bit exceptionally tolerant, I’d say.”

At first glance, Johan’s remark could seem arrogant. But to the mercenaries who already liked him, it was merely amusing. They nodded in agreement, tittering away.  

“By the by, you’ve been hired by the knights. . .what did they tell you?”

“Huh? To hunt monsters and scout ahead.”

The knights hadn’t told the mercenaries their true quarry was Manticore. Half would have deserted instantly, and the other half demanded ten times the price. . .  

Claiming they hunted an unknown monster was disclosure enough. Using mercenaries in such a way was standard practice, after all.

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