How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 52

𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 (𝟔)

𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐛𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 (𝟔)

Although Stephen was the commander of the punitive force, anyone with eyes could immediately tell that the real commander was Johan. Not only them, but even the captains of the mercenaries knew it.

Stephen did not possess the reputation or ability to lead such a punitive force.

When Inno poked him, Gerdolf recited the words he had memorized following his father’s command.

“I will go and kill. I pledge my loyalty.”

“No. Darkness is about to fall. It doesn’t seem necessary to take unnecessary risks for Johan.”

“It seems unnecessary to take risks for Johan as darkness is about to fall.”

Stephen repeated exactly what was said. Gerdolf, with a fierce look, was puzzled.

“Parroting words?”

“. . .No, this person. . .”

“Enough, Stephen. Let’s not complicate things unnecessarily. A commander doesn’t need to issue orders for every little thing.”

“Is. . . is that so?”

Watching Johan play with Stephen, Inno spoke up.

“Sir, may I have a word with you in private?”

“What is it?”

“I hope you weren’t displeased with my behavior at our last meeting.”

“I’m not particularly displeased. A knight may act according to honor.”

“As expected, you understand. I knew you would. It’s not about anything else, but here. . .”

Inno tried to hand over a jingling pouch to Johan, who looked puzzled.

“What does this mean?”

“Could you bestow the honor of the first assault to my son?”

“I’ve said it before. There’s no need to rush in under dark circumstances.”

“Such things don’t bother Gerdolf.”

“I’ll take care of it. If there’s a problem, other soldiers will have to be involved too, so wait.”

As Inno’s face fell, Johan added.

“In any situation, I’ll yield the honor of the first assault to Sir Gerdolf. Don’t worry.”

“. . .Thank you! Sir. Here. . .”

“No. Keep that pouch. I trust Sir Gerdolf’s abilities.”

But Johan inwardly regretted it.

Could the sound in that pouch be silver coins? Surely not gold?

‘𝘕𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘬𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘬.’

If you’re going to give, do it before departure, as giving in a camp like this will surely be noticed by others. ‘𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘧 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰, 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘪𝘵.’

‘𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦’𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘦 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘵. . . 𝘐𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴?’

Neither Inno nor Gerdolf spoke the Empire’s language with the distinctive accent of nobility. Humans express their status through accents and behavior. Unlike Johan and other nobles, they were likely from self-made or newer families.

That explained their anxious behavior.

‘𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢 𝘣𝘪𝘨 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘢 𝘣𝘪𝘵.’

While some knights, like those from the city, obsess over the first assault, Johan was indifferent. Boasting about beheading a troll was more impressive than claiming the first assault in a fight.

“Sir Knight! It seems a fight has broken out in the town!”

“?”

At the sudden report, Johan’s face hardened.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸      

“Are there people who came to this town first to fight?”

“Serfs who fled to the mountains might have gathered money to hire mercenaries.”

“No. The serfs wouldn’t have done that. Considering their numerous failures, unless the serfs are fools. . .”

“Could it be rogue bands that have drifted into the town? Especially since many mercenaries were let loose after the war.”

“It’s the priests.”

“???”

Suetlg interrupted the noisy chatter.

“Yes?”

“I hear hymns from over there. If they’re singing hymns while fighting, they must be from a religious order.”

“Ah. . .!”

It wasn’t just mercenaries roaming around like wild dogs. Monks and priests from the religious orders were also traveling everywhere.

The difference is, while mercenaries covet gold, the religious order seeks to spread the will of God, right?

If there are monsters, they go to hunt them; if the people are suffering from drought or floods, they go to help; if there’s looting due to war, they go to protect. . .

“If they’re from a religious order, it makes sense for them to step foot in such a remote village.”

“Put the agile horse-riding soldiers in front. We need to go and support them.”

Upon Johan’s words, the mercenary captains responded.

“Yes.”

“Sir Gerdolf, let’s see your skills.”

“Thank you. I won’t disappoint you.”

Gerdolf spoke hesitantly. Inno was surprised by this. Usually, Gerdolf wouldn’t understand unless the Count himself repeated the orders. But he understood Johan’s words at once.

‘𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯?’

“I will get ready too!”

“. . . . . .”

The atmosphere froze for a moment at Stephen’s shout. Johan spoke calmly.

“If the commander isn’t at the main base, the mercenaries might waver. Stay and firmly guard the base.”

“R-Right.”

“Suetlg-nim. Please take care of him. (𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐫𝐲).”

“I’ll do my best. ( 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐫𝐲).”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸      

Gerdolf, at the forefront, let out a ferocious roar. It was more akin to the bellow of a monster than that of a human. The sound was so intense it seemed to dispel the darkness around.

Handling a greatsword on horseback required not only immense strength but also extensive training. While lacking in social skills, Gerdolf proved why he was known as the butcher.

Ugh!

The sudden cavalry charge scattered the goblins rampaging in the town. The goblins, smaller than humans, were horrified by the surprise attack of the mounted warriors.

“■■■! ■!”

“■■! ■■■!”

Realizing they were being supported from behind, the goblins howled. However, it was rare for an army to respond to such a surprise attack amidst intense battle.

“Kill them! Don’t spare any goblins!”

The mercenaries fiercely shot their crossbows. The goblin armor, mostly made of beast hides, was no match for the bolts of the heavy cavalry crossbows.

“Sir Gerdolf, fight facing forward!”

After skewering three goblins with his lance, Johan shouted sharply. Gerdolf, not looking aside, rampaged like a berserker.

The goblins’ weapons were crude spears, shoddy bows and arrows, and slingshots. Continuous hits could still cause injury, as armor doesn’t cover the entire body.

But Gerdolf swung his weapon relentlessly, intent on killing his foes before getting hurt himself.

As dozens of heavily armed soldiers rampaged, the goblins’ poor formation quickly collapsed. Johan struck Gerdolf with his riding crop.

“?!”

“Coordinate. Gerdolf.”

“U-Understood.”

Gerdolf nodded as if coming to his senses. He rode up beside Johan, his face covered in blood.

‘𝘞𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯?’

As the savvy mercenaries threw torches, dispelling the darkness, the situation became visible. It seemed the goblins had quickly emerged from underground upon hearing noises.

But this level of defense could be easily countered even after an ambush.

‘𝘜𝘯𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴. . .’

“Sir Knight! The goblins are quite well-armored!”

“!”

The goblins inside were surprisingly clad in metal armor. Although of questionable quality, the mere fact that they had forged and attached metal plates was impressive. It indicated at least a captain-like figure among them.

Inside, figures resembling monks held their formation, fending off the goblins in the barely visible darkness.

“Regardless of the armor, crush them!”

“Yes!!”

Johan, hesitating not, commanded his mercenaries. Even his presence at the forefront inspired his troops. As goblins skewered on lances flew, the mercenaries roared.

“Assist the priests!”

━𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐥!

Karamaf growled beside him. A deep rumble erupted from the darkness. Huge boars, weighing several hundred kilograms, charged ferociously, baring their tusks.

“C-Crazy. . .!”

“What are these goblins raising?!”

The mercenaries were shocked at the sight of not just metal weaponry but also such savage boars. Johan felt the need to intervene personally.

“Karamaf. Drive them back! Gerdolf. Follow me. Let’s hunt them down!”

“Thank you!”

Johan swiftly turned his horse and rode off to the side. Karamaf moved in a similar manner. The recklessly charging wild boar always had its flank as a weakness.

“Fire! Cover Sir Knight!”

The mercenaries ignored the goblins and aimed to catch the wild boars first. A fully grown wild boar, especially one of monster size, was as dangerous as a beast. Getting caught or stabbed by its tusks could lead to instant death.

Although bolts flew and struck fast, it was not enough to stop the boars. It only enraged them more.

Thud!

One boar fell. Johan’s thrown spear had pierced its thick body, striking the heart.

“A-Amazing!”

“Strike, Gerdolf!”

Gerdolf leapt off his horse, sword in hand, and aimed at the boar like a spear. The boar, charging with full speed, ran straight into the greatsword.

“Grrr!”

Jumping aside to minimize the impact was a crude method. Gerdolf’s hand was torn, bleeding profusely.

Another boar turned towards Gerdolf. Johan rode to the side on his horse.

Having already thrown his spear, Johan followed with a mace, striking the boar’s side furiously. The thumping noise echoed loudly. The boar staggered and fell to the side with a piteous squeal.

The watching mercenaries were impressed by the two knights’ crude, no, spirited way of fighting. They had never seen knights fight like that.

“Is this the strength of a human??”

For the mercenaries, allies, it was a sight of awe, but not for the goblins.

The warrior who suddenly appeared and slew the beasts seemed like a monster emerging from the dark.

“■■! ■■!”

“■■■!”

The goblins howled and started to flee in all directions. The complete darkness helped conceal their small figures.

“What are those things babbling about?”

“Seems like they’re calling us demons.”

“What? You understand goblin language?”

“No. Just seems like it.”

“Stop talking nonsense! Prepare to chase!”

━𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐩! 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦!

The mercenaries halted at Johan’s command, looking at him curiously.

“Are we not pursuing them?”

“Fighting monsters in unknown places at night only leads to injury. There’s no need to create unnecessary casualties.”

The mercenaries, though not clearly visible in the dark, seemed moved. It was rare for knights to care for their soldiers.

To most knights, soldiers were merely expendable.

Expendable for their honor and achievements!

Scouting at night, volunteering for the first charge, all were possible because soldiers were seen as expendable. Some knights even deliberately sent mercenaries to their deaths to save on wages.

In this regard, Johan was a knight who naturally commanded loyalty, not for wages or spoils, but for his charisma.

“Are you Sir Knight, Marcel’s troll slayer?!”

“. . .How you recognized me, I don’t know, but yes!”

Johan answered the question that came from among the monks. In a situation of mutual wariness, it was better to reassure quickly if the other party recognized him.


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