How to Live as a Wandering Knight – Chapter 90.2

𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 (𝟐)

“I guess he might leave the soldiers in charge.”

While Johan was playing with werewolves in the prairie, Suetlg and others toured the city, mingling with the nobles.

Thanks to this, they were able to understand what the eastern nobles were thinking.

“The Duke’s power seems great, but there are many surprisingly unstable parts, from the south to the east. Frequent rebellions and invasions.”

This area is definitely stable, but the fiefdoms to the south and east are on a precarious balance.

They are kingdoms, large and small, embarrassing to even call kingdoms, fighting among themselves, unknown nomadic tribes, and city-states of the Catalian Peninsula wary of the Duke. . .

There were many forces nearby that could easily collude, so the Duke had to be even more cautious.

“Seeing him take care of the outside tribes, I thought that would be the case.”

“It wouldn’t be surprising if he entrusted the soldiers to you right away.”

Appeasement was good, but those who opposed the Duke and showed their teeth at the opportunity needed to be strongly sanctioned.

And Johan was the Duke’s newly acquired sharp sword. If he were a person, he would want to swing that sword.

“Suppressing rebellions is not too difficult. Personally, I wanted to strike at the Emperor’s city or town.”

“That’s too much. Of course, the Duke isn’t on good terms with Cardirian.”

Caenerna spoke up. She had been treated as well as Suetlg, but her experiences were different.

“But he didn’t seem to want to fight right now.”

The Duke, an elector of the Empire, was more interested outside the Empire. He didn’t want to get involved in the Empire’s internal strife, leaving his vast lands unattended.

The nobles even threw subtle messages to Caenerna, who would have been treated worse originally.

━𝐈𝐟 𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐚 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐮𝐤𝐞, 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐞!

“So did the Emperor promise?”

“. . .How would I know? I’m here doing this.”

Caenerna said incredulously. How would she know the Emperor’s decision while being stuck here?

“I’m asking for your judgment.”

“If I had to guess, maybe he wouldn’t pay.”

It would be crazy to make one more elector an enemy, especially when the western and southern nobles are sharpening their swords.

It wasn’t unusual for such dealings, like bribing and trading votes during the elector voting to elect the Emperor.

Johan looked disappointed. He was thinking of fighting hard under the Duke if he ever aimed for the Emperor’s fiefdom.

“Don’t be too greedy. Originally, your goal was a knighthood. Now, you’ve achieved many times more than what you aimed for.”

“That’s true.”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸      

“I will grant the position of standard-bearer to Sir and bestow Dolek and Palmon as fiefs.”

“. . .??!”

As if he had heard Suetlg’s words, the Duke called Johan and made a bombshell announcement.

Johan tensed up and said,

“Your Grace, Duke. I have not yet properly earned merits under Your Grace.”

The position of standard-bearer under Duke’s banner was close to an honorary title, so it was acceptable for now.

But suddenly a fiefdom?

To receive a fief as a knight, one had to be a dog and horse to the lord’s word and give one’s all. Although Johan had performed exceptionally in tournaments and hunting, that reputation alone was not enough.

There’s always a catch to an offer that seems too good.

Reading Johan’s concerns, Duke gave a bitter smile and said,

“I knew you were smarter than other knights, but it’s inconvenient at times like this, isn’t it? Don’t worry. You’ll understand once you hear the explanation.”

The Duke spread out a map and pointed to Dolek and Palmon, both port towns lying southward along the coast.

This Edene Sea to the west bordered the city-states of the Catalian Peninsula, and to the east, small duchies and kingdoms clung together, forming a sort of inland sea.

It was almost embarrassing to call this the southernmost point of Duke’s territory. From city-states to duchies, it was a location where anyone’s reach wouldn’t seem strange.

‘𝘈 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯.’

“Above these two towns, the city Umdim was once loyal to me. But either they took Brduhe lightly, or had other beliefs. . . They delayed the promised tax and expelled my people. Sir, what do you think I should do in this situation?”

The fiefdoms, entangled in complex rights, were headache-inducing just by looking at the map. They were the result of long-standing entanglements through inheritance and independence.

Ideally, one would want to wash their hands of it, but such an option didn’t exist for the nobility. It was unthinkable for both fame and wealth.

“It seems necessary to show Brduhe’s name.”

“Right. You’ve explained well.”

The Duke, with a handsome face, showed a smile and patted Johan’s shoulder.

“You know that the towns under Umdim’s rebellion wouldn’t be loyal to me. Those two towns are the same.”

In essence, those two towns had a just cause for Duke, but in reality, they were towns not in the Duke’s control.

“Reconquer them with your own power!”

It was more convincing to say it this way. It wasn’t too good a condition, but at least there was a just cause. . .

‘𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴.’

Taking the city was not something Johan’s small band of mercenaries could do. It would take many times their number.

As Johan looked troubled, The Duke decided to reveal his last card. This knight had the patience to resist tempting bait.

“Separate troops are being gathered for the Umdim subjugation. I can’t offer you the position of commander-in-chief, no matter how highly I think of you. Leading the army will be someone else’s task.”

“!”

At Duke’s words, Johan felt a burden lifted. It would have been madness to gather and lead an army alone, but joining forces with other nobles’ armies seemed feasible.

‘𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘥𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘜𝘮𝘥𝘪𝘮, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘯𝘦.’

Plus, he liked the location by the sea. It was a place where he could engage in trade by sea. And. . .

‘𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘤𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘒𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘔𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘎𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥.’

Though currently weak, the potential as a strategic location was high. The Duke, as if reading Johan’s thoughts, spoke.

“In the past, it was said that those who couldn’t inherit in their families went to the eastern part of the Empire or to holy places. The east welcomes great warriors. With skill, one can shine there, especially a knight as capable as you.”

“Thank you.”

Although flattered by Duke, Johan had already regained his composure.

“When do we depart?”

“As soon as the snow melts. Until then, it’s best to rest and gather troops.”

“Understood. I will keep that in mind.”

🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸🔸

At Johan’s words, Suetlg was taken aback. It hadn’t been long since he’d told him not to be too greedy, and now here was this proposal.

“What do you think is the intention?”

“At first, I wondered why. . . but in the end, it’s about wanting a loyal, useful knight to secure that area, isn’t it?”

Umdim and the nearby fiefdoms were too easy to betray. A place where even a breeze could prompt betrayal.

Moreover, not betraying was also a problem. With enemies swarming around, an incompetent person could lose their fiefdom in an instant.

From the Duke’s perspective, he would want a trustworthy vassal to control the area and pledge loyalty.

That was exactly Johan.

Without ties to influential families in the region, he would be even more loyal to Duke, and in terms of bravery and strategic insight, there seemed to be no flaw.

“. . .Wait. Speaking of which, isn’t there an Emperor’s fiefdom in the south of the peninsula? If I go by boat, I could reach it, couldn’t I?”

“Think about that later. Is that what’s important right now, Johan?”


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