Chapter 52 – Little Romaine couldn’t possibly take such a risk
Romaine raised her head and looked at the wooden signature board. Her face was slightly flushed under the cold night air. Even though it was early summer, the temperature in the highland area during the night time was very low.
The wooden signature board had turned black from decades of rain and wind, and on it was a running horse. She did not recognize the words on them but she guessed she was at the right place. Both her hands were placed on her precious bag, and she rubbed her leather boots together.
[This should be the place right? That ‘Running Horse Inn’ or something?]
With the alarm that came from a distant place, a group of patrol troops passed by her. The merchant girl was not afraid and curiously observed them. and watched them leave the area. When the alarm finally stopped ringing, she let out a small sigh and stepped into the inn.
The owner of the inn was a dwarf. He appeared exactly like the Dwarves depicted in stories, with a long bush beard with wheat color, and they were braided together. On the dwarf’s neck were bronze chains. Intricate patterns and Dwarven words were carved on the chain rings, depicting the family name, birth and given name.
Famous family names like ‘Firebeard’, ‘Rocksigil’, ‘Orichalheart’ would even create the precious and heavy gold chain for each member.
These chains were a proud symbol just like their beards, and the Dwarven families had centuries of history along with them. They would gladly wear the chain around and let the jangling chains sound out loudly. It was a rare sight for a dwarf to appear in the human society, and the inn’s owner, Khodrum Barrock, made use of this notion and dressed himself up like a person of great importance, as well as spreading rumors through the use of coins. Many people visited this mysterious dwarf and his business naturally got better and better.
Khodrum wore a robe made of silk today, with three ruby rings on his stubby fingers, as well as a cat-eye stone ring and an emerald ring. He had a nephew, a human, and was able to establish further relations with them. As to why the dwarf had a human nephew, no one really knows.
But his nephew who was serving in the white-mane’s army was currently discussing with him in private along with his companion. The three of them had been talking for a little while.
“You’re saying if I see a lass I should agree to any of her requests? Why is that? If she wants my entire fortune, am I supposed to give it too? No, no this suggestion sounds just too stupid.” The Dwarven boss shook his head forcefully and grumbled.
“Uncle Khodrum, please listen to me properly. I’m not asking you to give her anything other than to prepare a horse cart for her. Don’t alarm her and prepare another horse cart so we can follow her from behind.”
“Only horse carts?” Khodrum looked suspiciously at his nephew with his beady eyes.
“Fine, will she pay?”
The young man sighed, but knowing his uncle’s temperament, he quickly added on: “Of course she will, but don’t haggle with her too much and raise the price too high. Please don’t frighten her away, and if uncle helps me out, I’ll be able to take the credit of capturing her!”
“I don’t really understand, but you mean that you like that lass? I can consider give you a 0.5 % discount.”
“N-no! It’s something like this, this girl is actually a spy from Madara. She and her companions escaped from prison and should be seeking to leave the fortress as soon as possible. Captain Luc Beson tasked us to look at the paths that they would escape from.”
“Then why don’t you capture her directly?” Khodrum asked in curiosity.
Puck rubbed his temples. “Uncle Khodrum, she still has her companions, and in order to capture all of them, we want to follow her and catch them when their guard is down. Do you understand?”
“Okay, in any case, I’ll top up the money if she pays any less. Please be at ease, uncle Khodrum.”
“Get her guard down, satisfy her request? I understand that.” The dwarf nodded.
Even though he had to nitpick at everything, the speed at which he cleared the task was very fast. He called the workers over and ordered them, then informed his nephew: “I already prepared everything. When is the girl going to come?”
“I’m not sure but I hope she’s going to come over to our side first, I don’t want to see that bastard Granzon looking down on me.” The young man sighed, then suddenly felt his companion patting his back with everything he had. He turned his head and saw Romaine. He immediately jumped up and pushed the dwarf towards the front.
“That’s her, she’s coming! Quick, uncle, everything depends on you!”
“Relax, young man. Don’t push me like a sack of potatoes, I have been doing this for thirty years and I know what to do.” Khodrum did not forget to brag.
When Romaine came in, she was looking all over the place with great interest. She had never seen a building that was mainly made out of rocks. She felt something familiar when she saw the pillars and walls, but then she spotted the dwarf whose beard nearly reached the ground.
“Are you a midget?” She asked.
“No, I’m a Dwarven person.” The inn’s boss corrected her.
“Mr Dwarven, are you the boss here?”
“I am a dwarf, not Mr Dwarven. Lass, do you understand the difference? And yes, I’m the boss.”
“I would like to rent a horse cart, do you rent them here?”
“Of course, what do you think I do here?”
“Do I need to pay?” Romaine was still looking curiously at the store.
“That’s a given thing. Doing a business has a transaction of coins and goods. We calculate the days of how long the guests want to rent them for, but strictly speaking, a horse rental inn typically rents them out for only a day. If the horse cart is damaged because of the guest, we will have to seek payment for it. Furthermore, our drivers have the right to refuse any orders that might harm their lives. When this particular rule and that particular rule occur…..” Khodrum spoke without stopping when it came to business.
“How much do I need to pay if I want to rent for half a day?”
Romaine took out a blue-grayish pouch, turned it over and shook it. There were three copper coins on her hand. She raised her head and asked without any change on her face: “I only have this much, can I still rent the horse cart?”
“You can rent a horse wheel……..” Was what Khodrum wanted to say, but he suddenly recalled his nephew’s words, so he changed his tune stiffly. “Fine, even though this is short, lass, when do you want the cart?”
“I want it now. How do I get to the horse cart?”
“The cart is right behind. Here is your card number. Take it and you can find the right cart. Well, do you need me to bring you over?” Khodrum passed the copper card over in pain. He had not done a business transaction where he did it a loss for many years.
“Nope. I still have my friends waiting out there, and I have to ask them for their opinions. Can we finish the transaction now?”
“Of course. Finishing a transaction is my favorite thing in the world.” Khodrum dabbed his forehead. This transaction violated his principles in the worst ways. But for the sake of his nephew and his coins, he accepted it grudgingly.
Puck and his companion watched Romaine leave with satisfaction, and they ran out and he pulled his uncle and asked.
“Did you manage to do it?”
“Certainly, just think who your uncle Khodrum is? I have made transactions with man-eating devils before.” The dwarf described everything that had transpired, but Puck smacked his forehead and yelled. “Marsha above, Uncle Khodrum, what are you doing, she definitely knows we’re here! She won’t sit in your horse cart. We have messed things up!”
“Uncle, which merchant would do business at a loss, operating at a tenth of the original cost, you overdid things uncle! She must have suspected from the very beginning, what else did she say?” The young man had a grim expression as he did not expect his uncle to mess things up with his good intentions.
“She said she had to seek her companions opinions.”
“Companions?” Puck looked at his partner and they went out immediately. The dwarf shouted behind them.
“I say, wait, you two little wankers, where’s my promised money!”
He was fuming.
“These youngsters nowadays have no respect for the elderly.” When he looked back, he saw one of his worker running over.
“Boss, the horse cart that you arranged has driven away.”
“The horse cart that I arranged, what cart?” Khodrum looked at his worker in confusion.
“The horse cart which you said to fulfill any requests that the girl wants. That girl is really pretty and polite. Is she Master Puck’s lover?”
“What!” The dwarf looked at the worker as if he was going to kill him.
“Miss, where are we going to?”
The horse cart advanced forward with the wheels turning against the rocks. The monotonous sounds were accompanied with the scenery changing quickly, and the girl looked on with interest. But she replied quickly-
“I like the scenery around here, can we go to the south gate? Then let’s go one round to the north gate? Is there anything of interest around here?”
“Of course. We should pass by the Knight Everton’s residence.”
“Everton? Who’s that?”
“Knight Everton was a famous hero……….”
Brendel and Ciel climbed up to the peak tower of the Pine Fortress. They took in a sharp breath when they saw the troops surrounding the fortress. The disorganized mercenaries had lit up their torch in a random order, and it looked like there were stars on the ground, forming a fiery dragon that coiled around the fortress.
The private army of the nobles had already broken through the gate and were advancing in the courtyard. The wind bullet that caused a loud explosive earlier had alerted them and they prepared to attack with force.
Both of Brendel and Ciel’s faces were slightly pallid. It would be a miracle if they managed to escape from this. Even though they could rely on the gargoyle, but it might not be able to fly high enough.
Brendel held his breath as he felt that things were spiraling out of his calculations. He pointed at another fiery dragon that was appearing in the distance: “Do you see that? The white-mane army is also coming over-”
“I wish that I didn’t see that, my lord.”