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Volume 3: Chapter 177 – Those Who Take Vengeance (2/2)
The Holy Knight, Gulland Rifenin, who had gathered the refugees of the western capital, was currently in the royal palace with his aide, Yuan.
Gulland had been summoned to the office of the guard commander.
“You came, Holy Knight, Gulland Rifenin.”
Gulland told Yuan to wait before entering the room alone.
“I’m busy. You better not be wasting my time.”
Gulland was already in a horrible mood the moment he entered.
Naturally, the guard commander frowned.
“Watch your tongue, Gulland. There are people who’ve been calling for you.”
“And now why is that? Tell me.”
The guard commander was a traditional high-ranking noble and was in a position with considerable power. After all, he was one of the few powers the king had that could stand toe-to-toe with the royal army under his direct control.
“It’s just a warning for now, but it’s only to be expected what with you associating with dubious people. If you’re a holy knight, you should— Wait! Gulland!”
“I’ve never been fond of lectures. If that’s all you have to say, I’m leaving,” Gulland clicked his tongue.
The guard commander clicked his tongue too and cut to the chase. “Complaints have been lodged. They want you punished.”
When Gulland turned around, a dangerous glint flashed in his eyes. The guard commander felt his back chill.
“For now it’s just a worthless complaint, but they’ll investigate you for real if the complaints pile up. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Hmph, what a kind guard commander. Thank you.”
“…The king is worrying too.”
“…If that’s all, I’ll be taking my leave. I told you before, but I’m busy.”
“Do you really understand, Gulland!?”
The guard commander yelled, seeming almost angry, but Gulland ignored him and left.
“Goodness gracious, the hero really is a handful.”
When Gulland left, a plump civil official appeared, shaking his head as he stood beside the guard commander and uttered insincere praises.
“Even though he acts so audaciously while hiding behind his achievements, he should still have treated our kingdom’s meritorious guard commander with respect.”
“But that man really is one of the most valuable soldiers of our kingdom. His majesty is even more concerned about him after losing the west.”
“No matter how excellent he is, disrespect to the kingdom can only be poison, never medicine.”
“I know! That’s why I reprimanded him!”
The civil official raised his brows in an exaggerated manner and whispered.
“Good grief, if that hero could just act with a little more decorum, our guard commander wouldn’t be having such a hard time.”
After the west fell and Gulland started rebuilding his army, a delicate change in power at the apex of the imperial court occurred.
The kingdom’s influence had declined with the passing of Gowen Ranid. The defeat of the dispatched royal army and the holy knight who has supported the kingdom all this time, as well as being the king’s right hand man, has greatly wounded the king’s authority.
The holy knights are the pinnacle of martial strength, and as such, incur much envy from others. Nobles who have nothing going for them but their pedigree, in particular, were the most envious of all.
Gulland’s irritated footsteps resounded as he left the castle when he happened upon a familiar face, causing him to stop in his tracks.
“Well, if it isn’t the great hero,” the Ripper Knight, Sivara Bandier, said with a relaxed smile.
“What? Are you going to lecture me too?” Gulland asked, irritated.
“What you on about?” Sivara laughed.
“I was thinking of getting more reinforcements. The monster beasts have been attacking a lot lately, so…”
“Ahh, there have been more beasts lately coming from the west. They’ve been good training for the soldiers.”
“You’re the same as ever, I see.”
See ya, Sivara waved his hand and went on his way. At that, Gulland too left the castle.
“I have a place I need to drop by. You go back first.”
“Weren’t you warned just now? I know I should trust you more as your aide, but…”
“…I’m not going anywhere interesting.”
Sivara says that, Yuan says that, everyone has something to say. Gulland found that a little embarrassing, and he snorted as he went his way.
The direction he was headed to was a slave merchant’s residence in the merchant district.
“This is?” Yuan asked.
Gulland ignored him and passed through the gates.
“Your boss in, yeah? Tell him Gulland’s here.”
Gulland opened the door and entered. Seeing him act unusually high-handed, Yuan swallowed his questions and quietly watched.
“T-The master isn’t around…”
Gulland grabbed the servant by the chest and spoke with a threatening voice.
“Tell your master, Gulland is here. There won’t be a second time.”
The servant screamed as he ran back in.
Gulland wore an unhappy face and turned to Yuan.
“I would rather not have my boss sued for intimidation…”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Really, now? Yuan thought as he sighed and his stomach churned. The residents of the western capital mustn’t be thrown away even in the worst case scenario.
If a problem were to occur with this man, he would have to lead the western capital’s people himself.
“I-I-If it isn’t Master Gulland!”
That rolling voice came from the rising merchant that picked on Reshia.
“Nice house… Looks like you’ve been raking in the dough.”
“W-W-Well, o-of course. Everything is due to your excellency’s grace.”
Seeing the merchant visibly acting suspicious, Gulland smiled fiercely and forcefully had the merchant invite him in.
“T, To what do I owe, the pleasure of this visit?”
The merchant visibly scared out of his wits, Gulland became the very picture of haughtiness, as he sat himself on a sofa and crossed his legs.
“Money,” he curtly said.
Ah, it’s over, Yuan thought in despair as he looked up to the heavens. This would probably be his last day working for Gulland.
“I’m not asking you to give me money, I’m asking you to loan me money.”
Gulland did not miss that dishonest twinkle in the merchant’s eyes.
“500 gold coins… The interest… Let’s make it about 0.5%,” Gulland caressed his burly chin as he spoke in a cold voice.
“T-This is daylight robbery!” The merchant screamed.
Gulland stood up and approached the merchant. “You should be able to take out that much. Considering you’re wallet is heavy enough to hire an assassin… What? Ain’t you’re pops a huge merchant over at the Shushunu Holy Kingdom?”
That was clearly a threat, but it was indeed a fact that this merchant had brought a person without permission into the royal castle. There was also that matter with Reshia, so he was in no position to reject Gulland’s demands.
The merchant was on the verge of crying by the time he nodded.
Gulland left the premises.
“…Just know that I won’t be there to help you when you stand in court,” Yuan said.
Gulland snorted and waved Yuan off like shooing a bug away.
“Good heavens… At least, try not to get stabbed from behind.”
It was almost time for the soldiers’ training, so Yuan left Gulland and went back to the eight western fortresses where the people of the western capital were waiting.
After that Gulland headed to the slums. Being home to the needy, its public order was horrible despite being in the king’s city.
Gulland entered a sloppy bar that also served as a brothel. He was looking for someone. When he found that person, he’d already been drinking here since this morning. That man’s body odor coupled with the surrounding stench of liquor resulted in a fetor so horrible it could make one puke his guts.
Clothes that hadn’t been washed in days, and a leather armor so dirty its original color was already a mystery. The man embraced his short spear as he drank his fill.
Hair grew in a deep corner under his eyes, and there was a scar extending from his forehead to his cheeks. The man was the very picture of a fiend.
“I’ve been looking for you, Belthazar.
“What business does the hero have with me?” Belthazar spat as he glared at Gulland.
“Work,” Gulland curtly said as he threw a pouch full of silver coins before the man.
“You’re daughter’s name was Liza, if I recall…”
“What is she doing now?”
Belthazar was silent.
Gulland continued, “The details of the job is simple. Go to western region and lop off some goblin heads. A gold coin for every rare, 5 for every noble. Beyond that, I’ll pay appropriately.”
Gulland and Belthazar glared at each other, but the first to turn away was the latter, who stood up.
“That includes the coin for your preparations. You’ll be leaving in 10 days with the others. Of course, I don’t want a word of this to anyone.”
Belthazar didn’t say anything as Gulland turned around.
“I’ll be expecting, Belthazar, the Almighty Spear.”
Gulland knew that the king was wholeheartedly focused on defending, but as someone who has fought them twice, he knew full-well that defending against them was only asking for defeat.
One reason was because their rate of growth greatly surpassed that of humans. Even Gowen, who excelled at training soldiers and who never managed to find a right-hand man, would need 2 years to train proper soldiers.
But the goblins only needed one year to create such a fierce army. If they were to hide in their shell like a turtle, they might be able to prolong the war, but they would never win against the goblins.
Gulland couldn’t go against the king’s orders.
The best case would be if the goblins were to attack here on their own accord.
The small fortresses that Yuan and his western region citizens garrisoned could take even three times as many goblins as they’d fought. They could even defend for an entire year, so long as they focused on defense.
Which is why Gulland was willing to throw away his pride to dirty his hands with something like ‘strategy’.
He would use money to buy life and shave away at the goblins’ numbers. If that didn’t work, he could provoke the goblins and not give them any time to sleep.
Gulland finally realized that the reason Gowen left Reshia’s escort to him was because he wanted to have someone who could lead others, even if it was only one person.
“A little too late for that, shit…”
The great threat that was the goblins and the responsibility of protecting the country weighed heavily on Gulland’s shoulders.
Gulland grit his teeth at the great loss of losing people.
10 days later, the people Gulland contracted left the capital quietly. Their destination was the western capital.
Tl Note: Made some changes to the site. It seems to load faster now. Hopefully, this significantly reduces the 508 errors… or better yet, fixes it altogether.