How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 41

𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐚𝐧'𝐬 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐬 (𝟐)

𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐬 (𝟐)

The base of the guilds was in the city-states of the Catalian Peninsula, not in Marcel. For the guilds rooted in Marcel and the magistrate, the guilds were an entity hard to trust completely.

“But the case with the knight is different. Now, please tell me.”

“Cardirian is not a good Emperor, is he?”

Upon hearing Johan’s words, the magistrate grinned triumphantly.

“Is that so?”

“Did you call me to ask which side I’m on?”

“Ah. Of course not. The main point starts now. You have captured Baron Einbeck, and the right is yours. The knights sent by Count Bartok also said so.”

It was Johan who had captured Baron Einbeck, so the ransom for this hostage was also rightfully Johan’s.

“Do you plan to hand over Baron Einbeck to another noble?”

“!”

Instead of releasing Baron Einbeck for a ransom from the Einbeck family, handing him over to a third noble for money.

Certainly, this would have been a difficult task for nobles related to the Emperor or the Emperor himself. It was like throwing dirt on the face of the Einbeck family.

Of course, Johan was not at all concerned.

“If the price is right.”

“. . .Of course, we will offer you a generous price. Are you really okay with this?”

“Yes. But I’m curious. Who wants to take Baron Einbeck?”

“I cannot tell you yet. I will inform you once it’s decided.”

“Is it a noble of the Empire?”

“You are quick-witted. Instead, I will tell you something else. When the sun rises tomorrow, all Empire people in Marcel city—especially those related to the Emperor—will be expelled.”

Johan was surprised by the magistrate’s words. Although what the Emperor did was indeed unethical, he didn’t expect such a strong reaction.

“Is that allowed?”

“Cardirian refused to explain or compensate and insulted our diplomats. It’s a challenge to us, so there’s no reason to tolerate anymore.”

“Aren’t there pro-Emperor factions in the disaster relief council?”

“They will be gone from tomorrow.”

“. . . . . .”

Johan felt a chill for a moment.

“Sir, I was honestly surprised by your power. When the guilds mobilized you, I wondered what their intentions were.”

“I understand, being a foreign knight who drifted here.”

“But as things become more chaotic around us, a knight like you will become more valuable. As a magistrate, I look forward to your achievements. And don’t think that only the guilds can be your backing.”

The magistrate smiled meaningfully.

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‘𝘜𝘨𝘩. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘐 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥.’

The conversation with the magistrate was beneficial but also burdensome.

It was clear what the magistrate wanted. When the interests of the trading company and the magistrate diverged, then come under the Magistrate’s seal instead of the company’s flag.

Considering the magistrate’s status, it was an undeniably good offer. . .

From Johan’s perspective, who neither knew the magistrate’s thoughts nor plans, it was inevitably suspicious.

In contrast, the trading company was straightforward. Give and take. Suetlg wasn’t wrong when he said the company was easy to understand.

‘𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘴𝘰𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘺 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘷𝘦 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩.’

Not just fame or power, but trust was also one of Johan’s valued principles. It was because many ignored this.

While pondering, Johan handled his tasks in order. He took care of the silver and gold from subjugation and merits (some of which he distributed to mercenaries and donated to the monastery), and decided to sell the troll’s skin and blood to Marcel.

━𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝, 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐞?

The magistrate, naturally, Marcel wanted to buy those precious ingredients. If Johan’s family had not been gone, they might have even hauled them by the cartload.

Meanwhile, the elf knights finished their work in the city and prepared to leave. They hugged Johan, telling him to send a messenger if he was ever nearby.

As busy as Johan was, the city was equally bustling. As the magistrate said, edicts of exile, executions, and property seizures burst forth everywhere. It was such a measure that people wondered if the Emperor’s army was invading.

Yet, people didn’t worry seriously. They had that much trust in the city. Even if it was the Emperor, it wasn’t easy to lead an army from afar and conquer this city.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“Are you feeling rested, Sir?”

Iaon, who ran the trading company’s branch, seemed more respectful than before for some reason.

“Yes.”

“The reason I called you today is that there’s a proposal that’s difficult for me to decide.”

The frivolous proposals Johan received at the banquet also reached Iaon. They were letters from various places, but the contents were roughly similar. They praised a knight who had just started gaining fame and asked him to hunt monsters near their territories.

Monster hunting was a rare poison for young knights.

One could easily gain fame, but intoxicated with it, they often ended up with nothing. If they continued to win, maybe, but a severe injury could leave them with nothing in the end.

However, among these proposals, some were worthwhile.

Two proposals were such.

“Count Bartok and Count Jarpen wish to meet you, Sir.”

“. . .!”

Johan couldn’t help but be surprised when suddenly told that two Counts wanted to meet him.

“Do I have to choose between the two?”

“Yes. If you go to meet one, the other will surely hear about it, as neither of them is a fool.”

From the Count’s perspective, Johan was merely a knight who had gained a little fame. It was rare for a Count to view favorably a knight who rejected his offer.

Choosing one side meant it would be difficult to meet the other again.

“It would be best for you to make a decision quickly and assemble a party to depart the fiefdom. There’s nothing good in delay in this situation.”

When dealing with those of higher status, one had to be extra cautious. There was always a chance of being faulted for some reason.

“From the company’s perspective?”

“Well. . . Whoever it may be, they are people of high repute, so I think it will be a good opportunity. And Sir.”

“?”

“Has the magistrate made any proposal?”

“A proposal? I’m not sure what you mean.”

Johan kept his face unchanged, feigning ignorance, but Iaon looked already convinced.

“The magistrate always likes to not trust others and create his own people. Our company has no intention of betraying Marcel City, yet he made the offer. You’re free to accept the magistrate’s offer, but just know one thing. Unlike our contract, once you accept a deal with the magistrate, it’s hard to get out of it. Anyway. . . we’ll wait for your decision.”

Iaon, like a seasoned merchant, did not rush the response, said what he had to, and gracefully retreated.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“They probably want to use you as an escort, a young knight of skill and status. You know that the city’s guards and the captain of the guards are originally mercenaries, right?”

“I am aware.”

The mercenaries fought well but lacked loyalty. Knowing this, the city employed various methods to appease them.

They provided the mercenaries with homes and families, gave the mercenary captains positions, and continuously mixed mercenaries to maintain control.

Carrot and stick!

Mercenaries were tricky beings to deal with━neither too little nor too much.

In contrast, Johan was a noble-born knight. A much more reliable entity.

“They must want to use you like that. It’s not a bad offer, but the timing is off.”

“?”

“Looking at Marcel’s atmosphere, there’s a strong scent of war. Accepting the offer now means you’ll have to fight bloodily, in someone else’s war.”

“Who would they be fighting against?”

“I don’t know that. But if we do fight, it’ll probably be against the Empire, maybe a fiefdom related to the Emperor. The city wouldn’t stay idle after such an incident.”

Johan suddenly remembered what the magistrate had said.

Could the one wanting to buy Baron Einbeck be a feudal lord within the Holy Empire?

Selling the Baron and borrowing an army would definitely be a worthwhile venture, especially to start a war.

‘𝘞𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘤𝘪𝘳𝘤𝘶𝘮𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴, 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘸𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳.’

Participating in the war was one thing, but joining as a subordinate of the magistrate was another. The difference in rewards received would be too great.

“In my opinion, what you should be worrying about right now is not that. You can honestly put aside the merchant guild or the magistrate for now. Choosing one side won’t make the other hold a grudge against you. But an invitation from the Count is a different story.”

“Do you have any advice to offer?”

“Don’t go to Count Bartok.”

“. . .Why not?”

Johan asked, seemingly bewildered by Suetlg’s abrupt statement.

“Because Count Bartok is a miser.”

“His spending is miserly?”

Johan recalled seeing the elf knights indulging lavishly in food and luxury. It seemed odd that a Count who allowed such extravagance could be a miser.

“I’m not talking about his spending. He spends lavishly because he has a reputation to maintain. But he won’t easily grant fiefs. Haven’t you seen those knights? None of them received a fiefdom.”

Count Bartok, though generous in spending for his own luxury and pride, was stingy in holding investiture ceremonies and granting fiefdoms to his subordinates.

“It’s quite obvious. He will invite you, make you compete in a few contests, praise you, and then hold an investiture ceremony. But after that, he won’t grant you a fiefdom.”

“Then what about Count Jarpen?”

“Count Jarpen is…”

Suetlg trailed off.

“The Count is?”

“. . .I don’t know much about him.”

“. . . . . .”

Seeing Johan’s expression, Suetlg quickly made an excuse.

“I haven’t met all the nobles. Especially someone like Count Jarpen, who doesn’t seek wizards, there’s even less chance of meeting.”

“When I was passing through, it seemed like there was a war going on.”

“Oh, that’s fortunate. Were they losing?”

“I’m not sure, but I think I heard they were at a disadvantage…”

“Even better. Such desperation might mean you’ll be treated well.”

Johan chuckled at Suetlg’s words. It sounded like a joke, but it made sense.

“So, inviting me would mean. . . they’re looking for a useful mercenary.”

“Does that bother you?”

“Not really. I thought it could be possible.”

“You’re quite an unusual person. Sometimes I think you have a broad perspective, and other times, it seems quite narrow.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Thanks to the conversation with Suetlg, Johan felt his thoughts becoming clearer. Indeed, it seemed right for Johan to go to a noble who needed him, rather than one who didn’t.

If Count Jarpen is desperate, he will likely make a substantial offer.


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