Chapter 137 – Gift
Brendel proclaimed himself as ‘Viscount Gunston’, a noble who traveled south from the north. The papers he had on him were given by the cripple Roen, and the craftsmanship on them was as perfect as the papers handed down straight from the capital’s parliament. Even the original Viscount Gunston would wonder if his papers were fake if he ever saw them.
When the riders’ leader received the papers and read them, he bowed politely and said: “My lord, my name is Colton. I will report to my superiors so they can arrange a meeting between you and Lord Trentheim. Would you allow one of my men to accompany you and let him direct you to the best inn in the city?”
Brendel nodded, and Colton quickly gave orders to his men to clean up the street, and got one of the younger riders to escort Brendel.
The capital of Trentheim was called Fohre. Its streets spread out like spiderwebs, narrow and many, and the roofs of the buildings were a spectacular crimson due to the red soil used. Colton’s subordinate lead them to an inn called The Brave Fist, a unique building that was high enough to allow its guests to look at the city’s grey outer walls.
With such close borders to the wilderness that was outside Mother’s Marsha protection, humans had to rely on the city walls to defend against magical creatures, beasts and demi-races.
Brendel and the others only had to wait a few hours after their meals at the inn before Baron Graudin’s invitation arrived. Although it was only a small group of Graudin’s men who escorted them, when they arrived at Graudin’s manor, he found two rows of elite soldiers standing at the gates. They wore heavy armor, equipped with lances, and were neatly lined up and without expressions on their faces.
[A grand entrance indeed. It looks like Graudin is trying to threaten me. It might even frighten a real viscount—]
The youth ignored them and walked past the gates. There was a massive man who immediately blocked his path and tried to grab his shoulders. However, before he could even touch Brendel a girl with fiery red hair grabbed his wrist and jerked it away. Her eyes looked like she was locking on to her prey.
“Get lost.” She said simply.
She took a step forward and rammed into him, causing him to crash into the wall of soldiers. There was immediate wailing after a loud crash.
“Cease your actions!” The soldiers were surprised and immediately tried to block Brendel from progressing any further, but they were hurled backwards by the youth the moment they touched him.
It was as if they were facing a dragon and not a refined noble.
[70 OZ in the strength stats. Even in king Ansen’s era, I would qualify for a spot in the kingdom’s cavalry. Just a little more and I can be in the elite group. In this era, I am even on par with a captain…]
Brendel continued to advance quickly, and there were constant metallic crashing noises as the soldiers were thrown at each other like bags of flour. He never looked back and finally stopped at the second gate.
It was shut tight. Perhaps the person who was meant to open it was lying on the ground, so he did not waste any time, and kicked down the door just like how he had done it countless times in the game.
The door crashed onto the ground with an impressive bang, and the empty hall was presented before Brendel.
============= Graudin’s POV ===============
“My god, this man is such a brute!”
Somewhere in the mansion behind an arch window, was a middle-aged man who was peeking through the curtains with piqued interest. Even though he sounded impressed, his eyes were cold and discerning. He was holding onto a goblet with bright red liquid in it. He shook his hand and allowed the viscous liquid to bob up and down.
Brendel would recognize that man in a heartbeat if he saw him. It was all too easy to recognize Graudin’s prominent eagle-like hook nose. His eye sockets were deeply inset and his skin was pale as though he was sick with malaise, giving him the uniquely sinister look which was prevalent within the Randner’s family. The only thing that seemed alive was his bushy moustache that ended in a curl.
“A youth of twenty years and barely qualifies as a Silver-rank fighter.” Graudin stroked his moustache: “What do you think?”
The lanky man behind him shook his head: “He did not use his full strength. That girl with red hair isn’t simple either. If we were to fight, the odds will be split in both ways. I do not suggest fighting.”
“Of course I won’t,” Graudin laid his goblet down onto the windowsill with some annoyance, causing it to gave out a light clink: “He must have some considerable backing if he dares to openly challenge me in my own territory. But even if I don’t find fault with this matter, I need to show him a lesson.”
He lowered the curtains and turned around: “What of the task that I instructed you to do?”
“The men have been sent out. If there are no problems, they would be back this very evening.” The man bowed slightly.
“Good.” Graudin threw his goblet away with a fling on his hand, and it landed next to a dead woman. The red liquid immediately splashed everywhere, causing a foul stench to spread throughout the room. The dull-brown carpet slowly turned to a red hue once again.
“This matter is requested by my father. Make sure everything is perfect.”
Graudin wondered when his damned father would choose his successor. What disappointed him was how his father became sharper every year, or he would have poisoned all his brothers to their deaths.
[A bunch of fools blocking my path.] (TL: I made a pretty huge mistake. It’s not duke Randner, it’s count Randner. I’ll make sure to change it one day.)
============= Brendel’s POV ============
The grand hall was decorated with a crystal chandelier, an excessive luxury with intricate craftsmanship. There were sigils within the crystals, indicating that it was an magic artifact. The design dated to the early era of king Ansen, and was crafted to tell the story of the Treatise of the Holy Men, depicting one hundred and eighty star consellations of the Gods.
Brendel and Graudin met under that artifact, separated by a long rectangular table on each end. The supposedly empty hall was soon filled with people. Besides Graudin’s knights, there were many local nobles who were also invited to the meeting.
[Looks like his real followers are not here.]
Brendel was certain that Graudin’s confidants were not in the room after studying everyone. Trentheim’s territory was not considered large, but there were at least twenty-odd districts ruled by Graudin’s loyal retainers.
After the superficial pleasantries were exchanged, the baron formerly announced the banquet’s opening, in the name of welcoming ‘Viscount Gunston’.
The food that the servants brought had a wide variety but they were wasted on Brendel’s men. Having a meal in the heart of the enemy’s territory was too stifling for them. Amandina’s heart was racing all the time, frowning at the table as she looked across at the two exceptions.
Brendel and Romaine were sampling each dish with delight.
Baron Graudin noticed Amandina’s expression and spoke after a moment of thinking: “What’s wrong, does my lady feel that there’s something not satisfactory to your taste?”
The grand hall was suddenly silenced.
Amandina secretly panicked but she raised her head and nodded:
“My Lord Brendel and Lady Romaine are too polite and would not speak badly of this banquet. However as their retainer, I would have to protest at your treatment. Do you view us as nobles below your rank?—”
The other nobles went still.
[Good job! You saw through that bastard’s ploy.]
Brendel secretly raised both of his thumbs up at Amandina’s impressive remark. It was truly a slap to Graudin’s face and he was unable to find a retort at her criticism. One could hardly imagine a city’s lord to quarrel with someone’s subordinate, and a woman at that.
But Graudin merely smiled at her remark, before he cast his slightly clouded eyeballs at Brendel. The latter also gazed back at him without any fear. He was acting as an arrogant noble who did not care who or what was in front of him, even more so than the typical young nobles in the kingdom.
“Viscount Gunston.” Graudin said after a pause. He had a warm smile.
“Baron Graudin.” Brendel nodded.
“Since Lord Gunston came from the north, does the weather in the south cause any discomfort to you?”
“As a knight of the kingdom, there is no difference whether the weather changes or not. The frail idiots who can’t even withstand such changes are not worth being called as nobles in my eyes.” Brendel’s mouth fired back with conceit, and he wondered for a moment if he was actually a talented noble in the arts of arrogance.
The air in the grand hall continued became even more unbearable. This was another attempt to slap Graudin’s face, and the nobles wondered who exactly the youth was.
“A young man like yourself should not bring us old bones into the discussion. If you find that the food is not to your taste, I have a gift prepared for you as an apology.” Graudin’s smile was ever polite and even appeared sincere.
[Gift? What the fuck is he up to?]
Brendel narrowed his eyes. He was trying to get the idiot to back down and get him to let them leave. It was more important to get his own territory, and coming back to pick a fight with him could come later.