Thorskei’s laboratory was in the south because he was partial to fire magic.
In the blistering hot climate of the south, clearly nature must be a bit richer in fire elements. It’s not that fire magic couldn’t be researched in the ice and snow of the north, but it would be more difficult.
After Duwei had made his decision, everything moved very quickly.
Thorskei was immediately released from the dungeon, his magician’s robe, equipment, those bottles of powder, magic crystals and scrolls were all returned to him.
Of course, the magician’s robe was new.
That this young master could recruit a magician as his subordinate astonished the old butler. But once he learned Thorskei was just a first level magician he felt at ease…… So that’s how it was.
The old butler was unable to refuse Duwei’s plan for a journey, especially since he’d said that very morning that Duwei might go have a look at some of the clan’s estates, and how travelling was more intuitive than reading dusty old ledgers.
Carts, horses and luggage very swiftly prepared, and this time the butler arranged things better than the wretched journey from the imperial capital. After all, it would be humiliating if the clan’s great young master travelled too poorly within the Rawling clan’s own territory.
It was still Marde that accompanied Duwei as his butler, but this time he had more than ten castle servants under his command, in charge of looking after the young master on the journey.
From the castle guard, two cavalry squads were detailed for Duwei’s protection, and the teams were accompanied by the castle guard’s vice captain, a regular knight with outstanding martial skill. This vice captain Robert was also a regular knight! He was a person recognized by the knight’s association, holding the badge of a fourth level knight!
One of the two squads of cavalry was Robert’s own squad, and the other was the group that had followed Duwei south from the capital.
This fourth level knight called Robert had a tall and powerful appearance, with broad shoulders, imposing build, square jaw, and generally seemed upright and outspoken. To the little lord Duwei, this knight was always quite respectful, apparently an unsophisticated warrior. Duwei had a rather good impression of him.
Apart from all these, they were also accompanied by a female knight, naturally Duwei’s first subordinate, Rolynn.
Setting out from the castle and travelling south, Robert discharged his duties very conscientiously the whole journey, he painstakingly arranged their formation, and worked to take precautions whenever they stopped. On the occasions Duwei had a sudden burst of interest and proposed camping out for the night, Robert didn’t voice any objections and just wordlessly nodded his consent. After continuing, he would also very carefully arrange the night vigil and reserves.
A model soldier.
This was Duwei’s assessment of Robert. Clearly he had spent time in the army. Of the martially accomplished Rawling clan’s retainers, very many were knights with a history in the army.
Compared to that old butler who Duwei disliked, this loyal and conscientious knight was obviously a lot better.
While travelling and sightseeing, Duwei’s party finally left the Côte province after seven days. To travel further south they would have to leave the Côte province, or in other words, leave the Rawling clan’s territory.
Generally speaking, Duwei was satisfied with the state of affairs in the Rawling clan’s territory. On the road he had seen wide expanses of farmland, plentiful farming villages, leisurely farmers, the had even passed a couple of larger towns. He could also see that the people here led fairly good lives.
As their convoy travelled the roads, frequently when passing a pair of farmsteads there would be farmers standing by the side of the road, and once they saw the knights with the Rawling clan’s flag, the farmers would wave their hats in greeting in the distance.
It seemed that the Rawling clan had the good will of the people here.
Robert also noticed that this little lord hadn’t gone out to inspect any clan estates. He had basically brought people for sightseeing.
But this wasn’t strange. Considering the age of this little lord, how would Robert believe a thirteen year old boy would have the ability to manage any clan estates? And this wasn’t a matter he should concern himself with, he just discharged his duties and served as the best protector he could.
This day when everyone finally reached the southern Rawling territory border town, Duwei suddenly demanded to continue going south. Even if Robert felt a bit baffled by this proposal, he still didn’t object.
They were out touring anyways, and if the little lord was interested, they would continue south.
Moreover, heading south from Côte province was the imperial Lille province, and Lille province’s lord governor was extremely well disposed towards the Rawling clan. The Rawling family’s young master coming over to amuse himself would certainly receive some consideration, without anything to be worried about.
Duwei very quickly grew fond of this obedient knight. He also noticed that sir Robert was well liked among the guards. Young cavalrymen would frequently consult him about martial skill at camp.
Robert’s martial skill was outstanding —— at least to Duwei’s point of view. This knight could wield an immense broadsword with astonishing strength! When instructing those young soldiers, even seven or eight of them would be unable to get close to him.
Even that barbarian warrior in Rolynn’s retinue admired Robert. Since in a spar, Robert had knocked down the barbarian warrior with just one hand on his sword.
A fourth level knight really had uncommon martial strength.
Under such circumstances even Duwei couldn’t help feeling itchy, and proposed asking Robert for advice in martial skill. Robert was a bit surprised at this request. Since, according to the clan supervisors, if the family head’s eldest son wanted to learn martial skills, then he would find those high level knight retainers as teachers, and not an insignificant cavalry captain like him.
Robert straightforwardly agreed, his training was the battle qi training methods taught in the army anyway. It wasn’t any extraordinary secret. But just like the evaluation the imperial bodyguard at earl Lehmann’s side made, after a brief period of instruction Robert had no choice but to tell Duwei he really didn’t have the gift for training combat skills.
Duwei’s present body had since childhood, along with serious illness, been innately lacking.
Duwei wasn’t dismayed, he wasn’t hoping to become an expert, he just felt it was necessary to get a bit of exercise. Even if he didn’t become an expert, just being a bit healthier was good enough!
Like this Duwei began to learn some of the most basic martial skills, mostly some methods for strengthening the body. But this also led to their travelling speed dropping a bit.
On the ninth day of the journey, the party reached a small town in the northeast region of Lille province…… Half Horn City.
This strange name came from the town being located next to a valley shaped like half a horn.
This little town was situated on an important caravan route, and was therefore quite bustling. Even to the extent that in this little town, Duwei’s party even saw a twenty people strong mercenary company! They were escorting a caravan north, and stayed at the same hotel as Duwei’s party.
Lille province wasn’t the territory of any noble, but a province directly subordinate to the Empire. This little town didn’t have any high officials, and Duwei didn’t care to deal with any local officials, and staying at a hotel was more leisurely. So when their party arrived they didn’t disturb the local officials.
At lunch, Duwei and the others were in the hotel hall, and on the other side were those caravanners. Outside the inn was suddenly heard urgent hoofbeats, and after a brief clamor, the doors were pushed open by three cavalrymen in the local garrison’s uniform and armor.
On the chest of the leader hung a knight’s badge, representing his status as a fourth level knight. And judging from that armor and military insignia, clearly he was a senior officer of the local garrison.
He stepped in with big strides, flanked by a few subordinates, first reaching the side of that caravan group, declaring in a loud voice: “Everyone! I am Half Horn City garrison’s second cavalry squad captain, sir Spann! Currently under the imperial ‘regional military provisions law’, on behalf of Half Horn City’s garrison I am officially expropriating your guards! Since our current military strength is insufficient, we require your guards to accompany us on a mission in Half Horn Valley. By imperial law, you may not refuse.”
His voice was loud and his manner resolute as he looked at those caravan guards: “I know you are all mercenaries, so the imperial military will reimburse you after the present mission. You have half an hour to arrange your equipment and horses! In half an hour, I want everyone to assemble at the hotel gate.”
Even if those mercenaries were a bit unwilling, imperial law was like a mountain, and they couldn’t refuse. They would get paid anyway.
The caravaners on the other hand were anxious watching the guards they had paid for leave, and one with a pinched face came over, trying to get this officer to be a bit accomodating……
“Out of the question!” The knight refused him quite bluntly: “I’m very sorry for delaying your journey, but I guarantee it won’t be for long. Your guards will be back this time tomorrow at the latest. You can choose a place to stay in the city for one day, and the military will reimburse your expenses! Please don’t say anything else, this is a military assignment and I can’t be flexible, and please withdraw your gold coins, bribing an officer is a criminal offense!”
Finished speaking, the knight pushed aside the caravan master and turned to walk over towards Duwei’s party.
He had originally planned to ask them along as well, but after two steps he suddenly noticed the clothes of the several attendants around Duwei, and Duwei’s own clothes…… More importantly, he caught sight of Robert and the others behind Duwei!
Robert’s armor clearly wasn’t imperial standard, but rather the equipment of a noble’s private army.
The authority to invite a noble’s private armsmen certainly wasn’t something an insignificant local garrison captain could have!
Sir Spann looked Duwei over a few times, hesitating, but he really didn’t have the manpower right now, and that assignment was really urgent. He couldn’t delay. Clenching his teeth, he stepped forward with big strides. First he bowed according to a knight’s etiquette, then said in a low voice: “Sir, I……”
Here his voice choked off. Because right now he saw what he hadn’t noticed before!
On the chests of the guardsmen behind Duwei was the grand coat of arms of the Rawling clan!
Originally he thought there might be some way to borrow the guards, but he couldn’t ask to borrow from someone of the famous imperial military family!
Damn it! Rawling clan? Why would the Rawling clan be in Half Horn City? How hadn’t he heard……
Spann sighed helplessly in his heart.
“Please continue, sir knight.” Duwei smiling raised his wine cup and sipped, this kind of weak ale actually wasn’t bad, somewhat resembling the rice wine he had had in his previous life.
“This…… Sir. Forgive my impertinence, may I ask if you are from the mighty Rawling clan?” Spann’s tone was even more deferential, he even unconsciously hunched a bit.
“Correct. We’re from Rawling Plain.” This time it was Robert who spoke, taking a step forward. His imposing build was half a head taller than sir Spann: “This is my lord, Rawling clan’s earl Lehmann’s eldest son, young master Duwei.”
Spann saluted again. The Rawling clan head’s eldest son, an identity like that would even be on equal footing with the lord governor.
“Sir knight, may I ask what the trouble is all about?” Duwei asked with a smile.
“Yes……” Spann weighed it for a moment, but still spoke truthfully: “Just now I received an urgent assignment that requires about one hundred soldiers. But since it’s the time of the springtime maneuvers, the majority of Half Horn City’s garrisoned troops have been diverted a hundred kilometers south to participate. At present I only have twenty men under my command. Therefore, in accordance with the imperial regional military provisions law, I can only requisition local combatants within the city to temporarily serve in the military.”
Duwei nodded: “Oh, then are you also planning to requisition my guards?”
“No no, I wouldn’t dare!” Spann jumped with fright. That had been his original intention, but after seeing their status, how would he dare?
Who was earl Lehmann? He was the second highest in the imperial military! Requisitioning the guards of his eldest son? If by some terrible chance this little master suffered some accident due to a lack of guards at his side, even having his head chopped of a hundred times couldn’t atone for his offense.
“Then, what has happened?” Duwei was somewhat curious: “After all, if something has happened and you’re here anyway, I would ask you to tell us, so we can prepare as well.”
Sir Spann thought it over, then spoke with a helpless and somewhat distressed expression: “It’s a strange matter. Half Horn Mountain has always been quiet, the mountain isn’t tall, the woods aren’t deep, there aren’t even any large animals. Even if there were, our local garrison troops would go out and hunt it down! But yesterday, somehow, from somewhere appeared a…… Magic beast!”
Duwei’s eyes brightened!
“Yes, even if we still can’t be certain it’s a magic beast, we can still be certain this is a large creature, because hunters have spotted its footprints. There’s no doubt. But what’s baffling is that a magic beast shouldn’t live near a human settlement, and even if it did, it would be in the frontier forest on the southern border of the empire. Moreover, there hasn’t been a magic beast sighting in Lille province for decades. I don’t know where this creature came from.” Spann smiled wryly: “Me and my men have been ordered to hunt down this creature, but according to my assessment, as this is a large creature I will need at least twenty soldiers in order to kill it. And with the size of Half Horn Mountain, in order to corner it, it might be no use without a hundred men.”
Magic beast…… It seemed interesting.
Duwei couldn’t help being tempted.
In fact, since finding out there might be a hope for him of learning magic, he had grown a strong interest in everything related to magic.
In this hinterland of the imperial south there had actually appeared a rare magic beast! How couldn’t he join in the fun?
“Excellent! I’ve brought forty guards, all Rawling clan elite cavalry, and my captain here is a fourth level knight. I want to let them follow you to carry out this assignment on Half Horn Mountain. After all, sitting here and watching a magic beast wreak havoc doesn’t agree with to my ethics.” Duwei spoke very righteously.
Spann stared blankly: “You’re saying…… You want to lend your guardsmen to me……”
“Master, this is out of the question.” Robert raised an objection for the first time: “You can’t be without guards. If we must go, it’s fine if I bring twenty men.”
Robert wanted to help, he was after all a regular knight, with a firm belief in chivalry.
“No no, there’s no need to worry about a lack of guards.” Duwei smiled: “Because I’m going with you. I think staying next to you is the safest place, no?”
This time both Robert and Spann objected.
Especially Spann! He started to regret telling this Rawling family young master anything!
Bringing him along? Catching a magic beast wasn’t trivial! But if this young master faced the slightest mishap on the mountain, then he truly would be out of luck!
“There’s no need to object.” Duwei very bluntly made a decision: “There’s no need to worry about my safety, don’t forget that I still have an outstandingly powerful magician at my side!”
He pushed forward Thorskei.
Thorskei was helpless. Even though calling his strength outstanding was out of the question, his magician’s identity was genuine.
Spann’s eyes brightened!
A magician? If he could have the aid of an outstanding magician, then this time’s assignment shouldn’t be a problem!
Only…… This little master’s safety……