How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 59

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐢𝐞𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐣𝐮 (𝟑)

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐢𝐞𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐣𝐮 (𝟑)

Ulrike nodded her head. Johan wasn’t surprised either, as he had suspected it.

“I also need to take care of the eyes of my vassals, my feudal lords. You can receive it after a certain amount of achievements. Of course, if it’s a merit, you should be able to achieve it sufficiently.”

Ulrike pointed on the map while speaking.

“The problem is what comes next. If we’re lucky, it’ll end there and a fiefdom will be granted, but it’s likely not to end with just that.”

“?”

“Sangdarju Castle is a territory of the Emperor. Immediate support may not come, but as soon as there’s room to breathe, an army will be sent immediately.”

“Are you prepared for that?”

At Johan’s question, Ulrike burst into laughter.

“Of course! Why would I do such a thing without being prepared? Besides, the Emperor is already a toothless old lion.”

The Emperor’s fiefdoms were divided into the northern, central, and southern parts of the Catalian Peninsula.

Although vast when combined, managing such divided fiefdoms required much more effort. Mercenaries employed by the Emperor at great expense had to be constantly on the move.

Ambitious regents and feudal lords, lords from neighboring kingdoms, and cities constantly trying to break free from the Emperor. . .

“Right now, the Emperor’s main forces are tied down in the southern part of the Empire.”

The forceful attempt to warn the southern feudal lords about their treacherous activities backfired.

Even though some nobles were executed without trial and the Emperor feigned ignorance, the southern feudal lords were outraged by this unprecedented and outrageous act, eventually leading to a rebellion. . .

The bewildered Emperor tried to diplomatically resolve the situation, but the lords responded by beheading the envoys and sending them back.

War was the only option left.

“The point, Johan, is that the Emperor doesn’t have the luxury to pay attention here. By the time he does, everything here will be over. Then he can send an army or not, as he pleases. Reinforcements will come.”

“Reinforcements?”

“Didn’t you notice? The King of Erlans is supporting us.”

Since Johan had already heard this from Suetlg, he wasn’t too surprised. He would have been more surprised if such actions were taken without such a background.

“You knew then. It’s obvious with Cardirian II soon to die.”

“?”

“Why surprised? It’s not a widely known story. . . but if you’re to become a lord, you should be interested in such affairs.”

Cardirian II was old and ill. Even his most loyal followers didn’t think he would live long.

At most a few years.

When the Emperor dies, an electoral meeting of the princes is held to choose a new Emperor.

Cardirian II’s family, heavily in debt due to fruitless wars, was unlikely to be chosen in the next vote. The Emperor’s intentions were clear.

He intended to bypass the electoral process and pass the throne to his eldest heir!

Of course, the princes had no intention of just watching this happen.

If the Emperor disregards custom and law, we will act by force!

“Does the King of Erlans desire the crown of the Empire Emperor?”

“I would never be so bold, and probably push a sibling or relative to be the Emperor. Anyway. . . after hearing all this, you wouldn’t back out, would you?”

“I accept.”

Upon hearing Johan’s response, Ulrike was momentarily surprised, but soon her face brightened. She had secretly thought Johan might refuse.

“Are you serious?”

“Did you think I would refuse? It’s an offer with no reason to refuse.”

“How would I know? It’s hard to understand knights who do all sorts of foolish things for the sake of their damned honor.”

“I didn’t say it was for honor. . . Anyway, could you please tell me about the fiefdom I’ll be receiving?”

“If you accept, you’ll likely receive the title of a feudal lord or Baron. It’ll include the town of Heincut, and maybe two or three others. I’m thinking of this area. . .”

Johan nodded as Ulrike pointed out the locations. The places weren’t bad. They weren’t golden fiefdoms, but neither were they worthless.

‘𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘴.’

Johan now understood why Gessen had wandered so much.

In a small fiefdom, no matter how much you squeezed, there was a limit to the money you could make. Even feeding and clothing the troops with that money was difficult.

In contrast, one successful raid or hostage-taking in war could yield tens or hundreds of times more revenue. He understood why Gessen was obsessed with roaming.

‘𝘐𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘭𝘥𝘴. . .’

With complex thoughts, Johan shook his head. He needed to focus on the immediate challenges first.

If he didn’t distinguish himself in the upcoming battle, he might not even receive that small fiefdom.

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸      

After the dishonorable surprise attack ended in failure, the lord of Sangdarju Castle sent an envoy once again.

The message was that the recent incident was carried out without his orders, for which he sincerely apologized, and mentioned that showing mercy would bring divine blessings.

Ulrike-gong responded to the envoy by killing him outright.

“Send it.”

Then, an arrow with a letter attached flew over the castle.

“What did it say?”

“It said if they open the gates and prostrate themselves, we promise a painless death.”

“How merciful.”

It was clear that the lord of Sangdarju Castle was moved by this mercy, as he immediately had his soldiers prepare for battle.

However, the situation in Sangdarju Castle was different than Count Jarpen’s. The faces of the soldiers showed evident fatigue and hunger.

“Please spare us, my lord! Just spare our lives!”

“The castellan ordered us, we had no choice!”

Those who attempted the assault and were captured were dragged forward.

Composed of lower nobility and mercenaries, they seemed to sense the fate that awaited them.

Horrific screams echoed in all directions.

These sounds made those within the castle walls foresee their own fate.

Normally, surrender would ensure the preservation of lives, but this time it was different.

Having broken the customs of surrender with a surprise attack, it was undeniable that everyone, noble or commoner, deserved death.

And Ulrike appeared to be ablaze with the determination to kill everyone.

“Was the conversation fruitful?”

“It was. They promised a fiefdom.”

“As expected. Worth a try.”

Suetlg was not surprised. Johan, though young and inexperienced, had shown enough to attract the nobility’s attention.

Especially someone like Ulrike, having seen her in person. . .

“It seemed decent, so I accepted. . .”

“Well done. Not bad.”

Although Suetlg disliked entanglements with the nobility, Johan’s case was different. As a knight aspiring to be a feudal lord, it was necessary to grab any opportunity.

And Ulrike was indeed a good opportunity.

“I’m somewhat reluctant to get involved in a mess caused by King Erlans’ greed.”

“Where in the world is there a game not started by the nobles’ greed? It’s about which side you’re on, Johan. Being in the west of the Empire, it’s unavoidable to be influenced by King Erlans, so it’s not bad to choose a side early. And if it turns disadvantageous, why not switch sides?”

“Is it alright to switch like that?”

“Why not?”

It was not uncommon for nobles to switch sides, as long as there was a reasonable justification. Especially for a young, power-lacking knight like Johan.

“You’d be welcome on the other side too. Don’t worry needlessly. Now, think about how to earn distinction. Have any plans?”

“If I had a good plan, I would have acted on it by now.”

It wasn’t just Johan, but also the knights under Ulrike who hesitated. Despite their bold threats, they didn’t rush into an attack.

Ulrike knew well that pushing soldiers without proper preparation could lead to heavy losses, even against a small castle.

The most common and effective siege tactic was to surround the enemy and wait for them to crumble.

“The number of people executed earlier seemed low, are you executing them in batches?”

“Yes.”

“It’s a good strategy, but it seems a bit weak for making the enemy crumble. It’s hard to predict when they will fall apart.”

Suetlg exhaled. Each day was getting colder. The ones inside were shivering, but it would be even harder for those outside.

“So, you see.”

“. . .What’s with that scheming look?”

“You said you owed me a debt.”

“No. . .”

Suetlg was incredulous. Of course, he had incurred a debt, but he didn’t expect to be asked to repay it so soon.

“Alright. What do you want?”

“I heard you summoned fog in the last expedition. Can you do it now?”

“Ugh. . . It’s possible. But the river is far, so preparation is needed, and it will take some time.”

“As long as it’s possible.”

“Planning a surprise attack in the fog? Not a bad idea, but the enemy isn’t foolish. They’ll know that a full-scale attack is likely in the fog.”

With fog, attackers could approach the walls easily, but the defenders could anticipate this as well.

Moreover, launching a coordinated full-scale attack in the fog wasn’t feasible unless the troops were exceptionally elite.

“Ah. That’s alright.”

“?”

“I wasn’t planning a full-scale attack. I don’t even have command authority. If it happens, I was thinking of picking a dozen men for a surprise attack.”

“. . .Where to?”

Johan pointed at the walls. Suetlg’s mouth fell open. He hadn’t expected such a plan, despite the defenders being outnumbered.

Brave or foolish?

“Planning to climb the walls using the fog as cover?”

“With fewer numbers, we won’t be detected, right?”

“You won’t be detected. But once you’re on the wall, expect a warm welcome.”

“The soldiers on the wall look tired and frightened. They aren’t that disciplined, and in their current state, they’ll likely flee easily.”

“. . . . . .”

Suetlg looked troubled. He didn’t want to waste precious magic just to kill a young knight.

Even with a dozen men, could they push back the soldiers on the wall and shake up the inside?

“Well. . . you can take care of your own life. If things go south, just break down the wall and run.”

“What kind of nonsense are you talking about?”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸      

Johan had no intention of creating fog just once. He had to do it for at least several days in a row.

At first, seeing the fog would cause tension.

But what if it persists for several days and everything remains calm?

Being human, the tension would inevitably ease.

“So, the fog must come and go for several days…”

Suetlg let out a groan. An unknowing knight dastard was trying to overwork him with this magic.

However, using such a ruse was a better tactic than creating fog just once. It would catch the opponent off guard.

The problem was not with Suetlg, but with the other knights. None volunteered despite hearing Johan’s plan.

“Isn’t there anyone who will join me to defeat them?”

“. . . . . .”

“. . . . . .”

The knights remained silent.

They were not repulsed by Johan, the newcomer, nor did they want to embarrass him.

Johan’s plan felt too reckless to them.

Even the Empire knights, desiring honor and glory, did not want to enter a situation that blatantly led to death.

“If no one steps forward, I’ll have to go alone.”

“You won’t be alone, Sir. I will accompany you.”

Gerdolf spoke as if questioning the absurdity.

Then Sir Inno was shocked.

They had different places to go, why would they go together?

“What are you talking about? That’s not a place for you to intervene. You’re mistaken, let me tell you.”

“I will go with you.”

Gerdolf ignored his father’s words.

Sir Inno didn’t know how to react and just gaped.

“Thank you, Sir Gerdolf.”

“Are the other knights lacking courage? Is Sir Johan the only brave person under my command?”

Ulrike provoked them, but the knights stood firm. Ulrike asked Johan.

“What about taking Stephen with you?”

“I’d rather fight with one hand tied.”

However, the issue of companions was unexpectedly resolved easily.

The mercenaries brought by Johan volunteered en masse upon hearing the news.

The mercenaries under Ulrike, already present, clicked their tongues at the recklessness.

“No matter how much you love gold, what’s the use if you die? Don’t do something crazy.”

“I’ve never seen anyone who fights recklessly live long. Quit now. Even the knights are avoiding this.”

However, the mercenaries following Johan scoffed in response.

“You say that because you haven’t seen our employer fight.”


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