How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 48

𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 (𝟐)

𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 (𝟐)

A small difference in carrying the glass upright instead of upside down.

However, Johan’s instinct drew one conclusion from the opponent’s tension, subtle tremble, and wavering gaze.

Assassination!

“Don’t move.”

“W-Why are you doing this?”

“You drink first.”

Johan, pointing at his own glass, said. The servant obediently poured and drank the drink. At this, Stephen looked at Johan as if he were insane.

‘𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨?’

“Is, is it done?”

“Then drink from this glass.”

“. . . . . .”

Cold sweat started to form on the servant’s face. Johan said with a cold face.

“Drink.”

“I. . . I did wrong!!”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

After the servant was dragged away by the enraged knights, the first thing Stephen said was a denial that he had nothing to do with it.

“It wasn’t me!”

“. . .Are you blind? The poison was in your glass, not mine.”

The inside of Stephen’s glass was coated with poison. At first, Stephen didn’t understand what he meant, but soon his face turned pale.

“S-Someone targeted me?”

“Why, haven’t you ever done anything to earn resentment in your life?”

“No. . . not that, but. . .”

Shivering, Stephen suddenly raised his head and exclaimed.

“I know who did it!”

“?”

“It must have been Ulrike’s doing!”

Johan was impressed by the attitude of suspecting his family first, leaving many others aside. It was a truly noble attitude.

“Why do you think so?”

“Because she’s the only one who wouldn’t want to pay my ransom!”

Countess Abner might pay the ransom as a mother, but to the eldest, Stephen was just a troublesome brother.

The ransom for such a brother would surely seem a waste.

“That’s logical.”

“Logical? What nonsense! Attempting to poison a family is a grave sin that even God won’t forgive!”

“Then accusing without evidence is. . . Anyway, you survived, didn’t you? Just hang in there until the ransom is paid. Then you won’t be targeted anymore.”

Stephen was agitated by Johan’s indifferent attitude, thinking it wasn’t his problem.

“You. . . you dishonorable. . .!”

“It seems your mind isn’t quite there yet. Who do you think wants to protect you the most in this castle?”

“C-Count Jarpen?”

“No. It’s me. If you die, I won’t get the ransom. In fact, didn’t I just save you?”

“. . . . . .”

“So, if you want to return safely, it’s better to behave. Don’t you think?”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

Enraged by the near death of the hostage, Count Jarpen turned the castle upside down. The foreigner who had bribed the servant had already escaped the fiefdom.

He had promised to pay more gold as a down payment and then the same amount again if Stephen died, but no one believed it. Even if it had been successful, the servant would likely have been killed by the foreigner.

“I trusted you and let you into the castle!”

“I have committed a sin worthy of death. My lord! I thought it was okay because he was unrelated to your noble family!”

As soon as the investigation was over, the servant was executed immediately.

And that evening, Count Jarpen invited Johan.

“Thank you for preserving my honor, knight. If it weren’t for you, rumors would have spread about my incompetence.”

“I only did what needed to be done.”

“I heard you associated with Stephen, are you okay?”

Count Jarpen knew Stephen’s character. It was far from that of an honorable knight.

“We are in the midst of open and honest discussions.”

“Really? That’s surprising. I didn’t think that was possible.”

“Do you have any idea who might have ordered the assassination?”

“Countess Abner. It must be someone under her, fearing the loss of the ransom. If the hostage died, they wouldn’t have to bear the dishonor of not paying. There are always those who lack honor.”

Count Jarpen’s guess was almost identical to Stephen’s. The situation was too coincidental.

“But no need to worry. As things stand, I’ll send out the knights at dawn. Countess Abner has agreed to pay the ransom and make peace, so no need to wait any longer.”

“!”

Johan clenched his fist in satisfaction at the news that Countess Abner had surrendered.

The payment of the hefty ransom was just around the corner.

“Has the marriage issue been resolved?”

“Ah, you heard about it, did you? Yes, I’ve decided to send my youngest daughter. It’s not worth it to keep fighting with Countess Abner, so I need to save face to some extent.”

Countess Abner, who had paid the ransom and compensation, was like a cornered rat. If they kept pressing her, she would bite back even more viciously. They had to give her some breathing room.

After all, they were going to have to live together as families.

Even if it wasn’t as much as the silver mine, the dowry would help to save Countess Abner’s face to some extent.

“Where will you be bringing the adopted son from?”

“Hmm. I haven’t heard, but I think Ulrike-gong will decide that.”

It was common for same-sex couples to bring in adopted sons from other related families when they married.

The marriage between the Count’s family was not about personal preference, but about the fiefdom.

Once married, each would likely have their own lovers and live their lives.

“Actually, I considered you as a potential match. . .”

“!”

Johan was taken aback as the conversation shifted from the Knight Initiation Ceremony to a fiefdom award ceremony. Marrying off an untrained child was akin to granting land equivalent to the dowry to the other party.

No wonder knights targeted wealthy widows or bachelors with fiefdoms. A single marriage could elevate them to a feudal lord.

Though Johan had never seen the person, it didn’t matter. If it meant obtaining the position of a feudal lord, that was a sacrifice worth making.

“If I did that, I would become the enemy of the Abner family.”

“That’s true.”

Johan seemed regretful but didn’t show it. After all, it was too big a prey for him to aim for.

“By the way, may I join the procession taking Sir Stephen?”

“It’s fine, but. . . it won’t be a comfortable journey. It hasn’t been long since the war ended, and it will be swarming with mercenaries and rogues. We’ll have to move while subduing them. Wouldn’t it be better to rest a bit more? The person I mentioned last time will contact you soon.”

“What would a knight do if he stayed comfortable?”

“A wise answer.”

Johan’s reply completely satisfied the Count.

Of course, Johan’s real concern was for Stephen. Stephen’s ransom was too high to leave to the knights alone.

“I must save him and get the ransom in person!”

Besides, the money coming in from subduing the rogues was a bonus.

“Then I’ll arrange a place for you in the procession.”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

Although not as much as the elf knights, Count Jarpen’s knights did respect Johan. However, they were not without jealousy. They had heard of Johan’s achievements and were striving to compete.

And Johan overwhelmed them with his skill.

In the process of subduing bands of rogues, Johan fought fiercely, knocking down and trampling the enemies. Geoffrey had to rush over to tell him to rest.

It didn’t take long for the knights to recognize Johan.

“Ah!”

Hearing the sound of a bird taking flight, Stephen quickly ducked, mistaking it for the sound of an arrow.

“Are you scared of a bird?”

“We’re about to arrive at the castle! We can’t be too cautious.”

Stephen was clearly terrified. And he had good reason. Countess Abner’s territory was more dangerous for him than Count Jarpen’s.

To the knights, Stephen’s behavior was contemptible.

A knight only hiding, not ready to fight!

“Sir Johan. There’s no need to associate with such a person. Let the soldiers escort him.”

“No. Since I caught him, I will take care of him devotedly until we reach the family estate.”

The knights saluted Johan with a moved expression for his honorable conduct. Stephen, threatened with a club, looked on in disbelief from behind.

‘𝘠𝘰𝘶’𝘳𝘦 𝘢 𝘳𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘢𝘯. . .!’

Yet Johan was truly protecting Stephen devotedly. He was using not only himself but also Karamaf to block if the enemy approached.

Honestly, I’d like to see someone try to break through this guard and kill him.

“But if you’re that scared, isn’t it dangerous to return to the fiefdom?”

If assassins appear, thinking of his siblings’ names, inside the fiefdom might be more dangerous than outside.

If it were Johan, he would have run away immediately.

“Ha. If I talk to the Count, even Ulrike won’t act recklessly.”

“Hmm. . .”

Judging by his talk, Countess Abner seemed to care quite a bit about this third son. After all, giving him a knight’s title and abruptly making him a military commander were not easy things to do without affection.

“So, protect me properly! If you want the ransom!”

“Shut up and stay quiet. If you keep making noise, Karamaf will get angry.”

Despite his grudge against Johan, Stephen had to admit once more during this journey that Johan’s abilities were indisputable.

Not only was it bold to seize him in a tent filled with armed knights, but the tremendous strength displayed against bands of rogues was beyond imagination.

He wasn’t sure if his feelings would change once back in the fiefdom, but for now, Johan was as good as his lifeline.

“We should arrive by tomorrow. Let’s stay in this town tonight.”

When moving under the banner of Count Jarpen’s house, the treatment was different. Even in the fiefdom of other nobles, everyone from the village chief to the serfs rushed to tie their horses and run errands.

In the town, vacating the best house for them was a given, and when the villagers even attempted to slaughter pigs and chickens with borrowed liquor, the knights intervened.

“We have brought provisions. You may stand down.”

“Thank you, Sir Knight.”

The knights of Count Jarpen, true to their discipline, accepted no undue favors. Stephen grumbled discontentedly about not receiving the expected treatment.

Just as the knights were about to retire after a satisfying meal, a group appeared outside the town. The fluttering flag belonged to the house of Countess Abner.

Leading this entourage was Ulrike, Countess Abner’s eldest daughter.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

“Marcel’s troll slayer is. . . over there, right?”

“Yes, Ulrike-gong.”

The knights accepted Ulrike’s approach with bewildered expressions. As the heir to the Count, she was a daunting opponent for them to deal with.

“Would you come to my tent for some good wine as a treat for such a knight?”

“. . .!!”

The knights wore very worried expressions. Of course, breaking a promise as a noble was akin to social suicide, but this was enemy territory after all.

Moreover, someone like Johan was exactly the kind of adversary the Abner family would be grinding their teeth against.

Sending Johan to the tent alone seemed daunting.

“I’m sorry, sir. It’s getting dark, and you must be tired from today’s battle.”

“I wasn’t asking you. Who do you think you are, being so bold in front of me?”

“. . .I, I’m sorry.”

Though they came as a delegation celebrating victory, the difference in rank was clear. Outside the agreed upon negotiation topics, the knights found it hard to assert themselves in front of Ulrike.

“That’s enough. Let’s go.”

“. . .Sir, please be careful.”

“Shouldn’t the person entering my tent be the one to be careful?”

At Johan’s joke, the knights forgot the situation for a moment and burst into a stifled laugh. It was indeed a remarkable display of courage.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

Before even starting to drink in the tent, Ulrike spoke up.

“If you kill Stephen, I’ll pay you his weight in gold and cleanly forget this grudge.”

About to take a sip, Johan put down his cup with a wry expression. It was a proposal that soured the taste of the drink he had.


Image description Styled Links Random Banner
Advertisement

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset