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Chapter 103 – Trentheim and the Young Lord (3)
TL: Alistair is the wizard guy who had his companions killed by Graudin. He was a little cynical about Brendel because he thought all nobles are the same, or at least until Brendel came back to kill Graudin.
The first year of the War of the Black Rose’s winter was colder than the past seasons. The moisture in the air was frozen into powdery snow which fell from the dark grey sky.
Alistair laid in ambush amongst the shrubbery at the mountaintop overnight. He was still wearing his dark green robes but he was almost frozen from the cold. Snowflakes fell on his face and he felt the chill pierce through his skin.
[The first snow of this year.]
He used to overhear the conversations between Grandmaster Ciel and Lord Brendel back in Firburh. The contents of the conversations were about the northern situation, the armies of the dukes, the princess’s fate, how Madara invaded Aouine, even the activity in Kirrlutz…….
[The upcoming battle in the north is delayed long enough that it will only happen after this winter.]
Alistair came from a small family that was considered part of the gentry. His hometown was in Karsuk, but it was situated in a remote area and his knowledge about society was limited; he merely watched high nobles pass through the area.
While he lived a life better than most commoners, it became worse each year.
He knew that he had to change his own fate and went on an adventure. A wizard had taught him for a period of time and hearing the stories from his teacher was a fatal attraction to the youth.
This chaotic world seemed to have opportunities everywhere.
Thus when his teacher passed away, he went on a journey that he had always dreamed of.
But his luck was not as good as he thought.
Two of the companions he encountered along the way who almost had the same background like him, died in the middle of their adventure. He and his other members had no choice but to stay in Firburh and decide whether to return to their homes or continue their journey.
He never expected Graudin to kill all his other companions. It was as though only despair remained in his future. He stayed behind, wanting to assassinate Graudin even if it cost his life.
But sometimes fate was simply just that fickle. He met the young noble, Brendel, and participated in that battle and continued to serve under him until he was reassigned to become part of Ciel’s Wizard Corps. (TL: The original term I had was Wizard Army but someone in the patreon suggested Wizard Corps. Anyone else want to take a shot?)
As Ciel’s right hand, he naturally had the opportunity to listen to the discussions between Brendel and Ciel.
That was the first time he thought of Brendel as a true lord who ruled over Firburh. The latter’s insight towards the events around him had shown him a whole new world. It was something that his teacher had never taught him before.
From that moment onwards, he became a true supporter of Brendel. He knew that he had caught onto an opportunity, or perhaps he had already reached the place that he was searching for.
He soon volunteered for the scouting mission that was deep in the Palas region.
Since the scouts needed a talented person familiar with magic, he naturally got into the team.
Ciel even complained to Brendel that he stole his right hand.
But Alistair did not regret his decision. Rather than staying silently beside Lord Brendel, he felt he should catch his attention through physical actions. He was someone out for adventure, or he would not have left his home to reach Firburh.
The youth stared at the sky for a long time, before he finally came back to his senses. He slowly reached forward and looked down from his vantage point, taking care not to make a single sound to avoid the attention of the guards. There were yellow tents set up in the forest with people milling about.
Suddenly there were soft shuffling noises behind him. That direction was supposed to be guarded by his companions, and it should be them, but it was possible that it was something else.
Alistair immediately became tense.
A strange password was uttered. Ciel was the one who instructed them to use it.
Alistair relaxed. It was his companion. He turned around and asked: “Woo ham eye?”
“Melf.” (TL: DND reference. Melf is a Grey Elf and a fighter/wizard.)
That name was given to another wizard apprentice. Because that person was an orphan, he only had a nickname, and Lord Brendel gave him that name.
[So it’s you, you lucky darned fellow. Hmph.]
Alistair could not help but think that way when he recognized who the person was.
“Alistair, how is it? Is the area below us the place where Palas’s knights set up their camps?” Melf came over quietly like a cat with his back hunched over and whispered when he reached Alistair’s side: “But Rat and the others said there aren’t any camps around other than this place—”
“These aren’t the Knights’ camps.” Alistair shook his head.
“It’s not?” Melf appeared stunned.
Alistair nodded as he tried to massage his frozen and slightly stiff legs: “They are Highland natives.”
“Highlanders? Huh. But are they not in bad terms with Lord Palas! Why are they here? Wait, are they planning to attack the region at this point in time? That’s really helping us out!”
“No, it’s not that simple. There are many groups of Highland natives, and they might be coming for us instead.”
“What? A-are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m much more familiar with them than you are. Alright, you should head off and pass the message to the various scouting groups. My group is preparing to retreat. Our clothes won’t match the surroundings if it’s starting to snow, and we will need to change our clothes before coming here again.”
Melf nodded and moved off.
=============== Brendel’s POV ==============
Amandina was distributing the workers’ wages at the southern gate, and each person would get only a few copper coins. It was not a lot of money, but it symbolized something and was better than nothing. She originally wanted to cut down on this expense, but Romaine said that it was part of revitalizing the economy and asserted that the money must be given to them.
In the end, Amandina was unable to convince Romaine and had to give up. However, in order to get back at her, she forced the latter to stay behind and help out.
Brendel laughed a little when Romaine tried to slip away, only to be caught by Felaern who was sent out by Amandina because she predicted it a long time ago.
Romaine put on a tearful expression but was unable to persuade Amandina, who had no exceptions when it came to work. Brendel had already escaped the moment when the two girls argued in the beginning, so Romaine could not hide behind his back as a final trump card.
He was the only exception to Amandina’s iron-clad administration and did not know if he was able to resist Romaine’s teary eyes. Therefore, he hid in a corner to watch the merchant girl put on a bitter face with great interest.
After a short while, Brendel left the southern gates along with Scarlett and Medissa. A mercenary came up and greeted everyone.
[Hmm, I recognize you. You’re….. an Elementalist. Are you not working under Ciel?]
Brendel recalled that he asked Ciel to recruit people who had the talent for magic, and the latter went around to choose from adventurers and mercenaries.
Third-rate Elementalists, conmen, fake witch doctors, apprenticing magicians to make up a so-called army of spellcasters. The number of people who could truly use magic was few.
Since Ciel was a Gold-ranked wizard, he did not really have to put in an effort. Many voluntarily left the mercenary groups they were in to join Ciel’s Wizard Corps. Even though many mercenary commanders complained, Ciel had Brendel’s support and he did not really encounter trouble.
Brendel wanted to set up an army made up of wizards because of how effective it could be used strategically in a battle. This was proven in the later part of the game where the gamers first utilized the concept before the NPCs started copying them. Even though Ciel grumbled about the majority of these people were unworthy of being in the ‘Wizard Corps’, Brendel did not care. At the very least, it was his first specialized army.
Since there were talented people in them after all, they could be nurtured to become the backbone of a Wizard Association. Unfortunately, his plan was not going well. Ciel had the capabilities of a Grandmaster, but he did not have the experience of teaching. The so-called Wizardry Corps was still a sham.
But that did not mean the Wizard Corps was useless. The wizards had varying degrees of experience, but there was a single common point.
They all knew how to write and read.
The Wizard Army had the part-time job of helping Brendel, Amandina, Nightsong Tiger, and Ciel’s tasks to handle information and administrative work.
Currently, the person in front of Brendel belonged to Nightsong Tiger’s ‘Intelligence Network’.
“My lord, there’s urgent news from the ‘people in the north’. The report states that it has something to do with the Highlanders—”
Brendel blinked a few times before he recalled that the Nightsong Tiger and Leto had sent out scouts to investigate the Palas region, and the former was the one who planned the entire project to investigate the news about Count Randner.
The Nightsong Tiger selected the better wizards from the Wizard Corps and had them disguised as adventurers while scouting the land.
However, Brendel was the one who suggested the usage of familiars. It was not a new idea, and there were examples of wizards sending their familiars as messengers throughout the eras. However, it was rare for a wizard to be used as a scout, and thus this method was not widely used.
Gamers witnessed the increase of talented wizards in the game years after the War of the Black Rose, and the method became more and more popular. Eventually, there was a breakthrough in using magical artifacts to communicate more reliably, but it was obviously not that year yet and Brendel thought of using this ‘primitive’ method.
With this method, the time taken would approximately be a full day from the Palas region, which was much faster than the normal duration of one week. However, there was a lack of wizards who had enough stamina to act like a scout. Only three groups were formed, and information about the knights in the Palas region was limited because of the insufficient scouting.
Brendel skimmed through the report.
[It seems like the nobles are still underestimating us. Well, their numbers prove that they are treating us as a threat, but the way how they set up their defenses is a joke. Also, it seems like Lord Palas isn’t controlling them very well.]
Lord Palas was a traditional Aouine general. He stuck to the rules and had a strong discipline, but his attitude would most certainly draw the ire of Count Randner’s knights. The Highlanders were even less interested in listening to his commands, and this allowed Brendel’s wizards to be able to infiltrate their lax security.
Still, it was true that the nobles could not imagine to send wizards to the frontlines and act as scouts. Even Amandina and Ciel were stunned when Brendel mentioned this method.