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Book 1 - Chapter 2: Julius the villager boy.
The convoy did not spend much time to arrive at the village. Residing on the edge of the forest of the dead, this village is only two or three hundred people in size, with a dozens of wooden houses are separated on two sides, leaving a s.p.a.cious road that allows carriages to pa.s.s. In addition to the road directed toward the forest, the outside of the village is nothing but fields where the villagers were farming. When they saw the convoy, they would look up to look at it, but weren't very surprised. This village is like a small ant leaning against the green giant of the forest. It has not been trampled to death by the giants, but survived.
The convoy stopped at one side of the road and took a break to see if they could be replenished with fresh food in the village. Of course, these things do not require Paddington, the leader of the knight to attend to, it was the work of the servants.
The people who came to greet the convoy were the prestigious people in the village and some other villagers who were diligent and know how to trade with others. The elderly village chief came to Paddington, his weather-stained face was full of knife marks of time, "Sir Knight, what can I do for you?" The bowing body of the village chief in front of Paddington, because of him showing respect, appeared to be even smaller.
"After supplementing the food, we will depart immediately and will not disturb your life." Paddington said, "What is the road condition in the Forest of the dead after the early spring?"
This village is on the edge of the forest. And in a village, in general, the village chief will be the most knowledgeable and informative person. Paddington was asking him because of that.
"Earlier this month, because of the continuous heavy rain, the forest of the dead became very difficult to get in and out... Not to mention the paths in the forest, even the main road that entered the forest became all muddy." The village chief said, "But there is no such thing as a heavy rain like a month ago. Occasionally, the light rain does not affect the road conditions. The next rains that will make the road into a muddy pool will probably only appear in the summer. Now is a good time to travel, Sir Knight."
Paddington raised an eyebrow. No need for the village chief to say any more, it was because the current refreshing and comfortable weather that the convoy would travel at this time. "Are there any unusual howls of wild beasts coming from the forest?" he continued. There are naturally dangerous beasts in the forest of the dead. Paddington was cautious and wanted to know if there is any abnormality in the forest he was going to enter.
The village chief touched the messy beard of his chin. "Here, from the south of the forest where the entrance is, until the middle of the west, I have never seen traces of magical beasts for a long time or I have not heard the fearful roar of the beast. There have been such calm times in about five or six years. This makes us not living in fear every day."
Paddington didn't know if this was good news. Such a big forest, but in half of its area people could no longer hear beasts. This doesn't sound like a good thing.
The village chief continued: "It was like this a few years ago. The south of the forest quiet down just like that. This nearby village also had a better life than before. Thanks to the Emperor... Thanks to the G.o.d of light." He drew a cross on his chest. This sentence was said to be heard by Paddington, also to the nearby villagers, but moreover to himself.
The emperor in his word, of course, was not the emperor of the Twin Eagle Empire, but the emperor of the Crescent Empire.
Paddington felt that this scene in front of him was a bit ridiculous. The old man, who drew a cross on his chest, thanked the pagan emperor? Although he felt ridiculous, but the pagan emperor had never cared about the beliefs of his people, and he had never been cruelly persecuted to believers who believe in the G.o.d of Light - compared with the church of Illumination in the distant West, he seems to be particularly tolerant.
When Paddington left the land that was covered by the gospel of the Illumination church in the west, there were witch hunt and pagan slaughter activities. It seems like all the living beings that do not believe in the G.o.d of Light must all be burned to ashes under the holy light of the lord - and the one who burned them to ashes were the believers, priests and knights of the Illumination.
Since Paddington was now far away from all that in the easternmost part of Olean continent, he didn't know if this crazy and fanatical thing is over or not. Maybe in the Vises Republic, he can ask for it.
When Paddington and the village chief were talking, there was sound of quarrels came from the rear of the convoy where it seemed to be a dispute.
Paddington immediately rushed over with a presence followed behind him. "What happened?" He screamed and stopped the two sides of the quarrel.
Near the carriage carrying the goods, three mercenaries wearing rough leather armor surrounded a teenager boy, their expression weren't very good, and their hands had already touched the axes or swords on their waists. One of the mercenaries' foreheads was bleeding with unknown reason, seemingly very angry.
The encircled teenager had messy maroon hair like a hedgehog, wearing thin clothing with many patched places, and the sandals under his feet were already rotten to reveal the toes. The teenager boy, still had a slightly tender face while fluffy hair had not yet grown, was squinting and glaring at the mercenaries who surrounding him. Still holding a pebble in his hand, it seemed that he is the main culprit in breaking the mercenary's forehead.
"This stinky little s.h.i.t dared to smash me with stones!" The mercenary whose forehead was smashed looked very angry. His hand pressed on the handle of the axe on his waist, looking like he would pull it out in any second and chop the head of this abominable boy in front of him in half. However, the quarrel that they made was too big. The church knights were coming from far or near distant, and the non-combatant servants and the villagers already hid far away, leaving a lot of s.p.a.ce around them.
"You b.a.s.t.a.r.ds dared to touch the girls in the village! If I have had a sword I would have already stabbed you! You coa.r.s.e dirty faithless offal!" Leaning his back on the side of the cargo carriage and facing the three fierce mercenaries in front of him, yet the boy didn't seem to be panicking and also cursed them back. "Shameless heretics, go back to your northern land!"
These mercenaries had obvious northern characteristics, it was easy to be seen that they weren't people from the easternmost part of Olean continent, which made the crowd of villagers who were watching from afar looked even more scared. For these villagers, the unceasing fear for a dozens of generations didn't come from the reign of the Crescent Empire, but the mercenaries who plundered their so-called "heretic" ancestors under the banner of the crusades.
Hearing these words coming from the teenager boy, the knights who came closer didn't have a pleasant expression -- these villagers were no longer citizens of the Twin Eagle Empire, but they still believed in the same G.o.d, yet they were actually hara.s.sed by those almost-no-different-from-robbers mercenaries? The knights, leaded by Leo, vaguely surrounded the three mercenaries.
The three mercenaries saw all the knights were around them, and even Paddington, the leader of the knights, was also attracted to come closer. They already wanted to retreat, but at this time the other mercenaries gradually gathered around and shouted at them, rendering them impossible to back down.
If they give up right now, the three of them will probably lose their position in the mercenary group. Their boss, Gris, has always disliked cowards.
At this time, the surrounded people who partic.i.p.ated in the dispute were divided by three circles, a b.l.o.o.d.y conflict seemed inevitable.
Olga, who had been waiting beside the n.o.ble lady's carriage, also rushed over. After looking for a servant to ask for the whole story, he quickly walked into the encirclement of the three mercenaries and stand before the teenager boy. "Back off, the Mullin family hired you for your services, not to be robbers or scoundrels!"
Olga's roars also raised the three mercenaries' burning anger. "This kid dared to take a stone and smash me, he has to pay the price! Get lost, old man!" One of the mercenaries had pulled out his sword halfway. The mercenaries behind them were also shouting louder, as if they were afraid that the dispute wasn't big enough already. The knights also began to get serious, with their hands on the long swords at their waist while holding the shields.
Seeing that the situation was going in a bad direction, Paddington took a deep breath and screamed, leaving everyone in the place quiet down. "Stop right there!"
He was so loud that even the dust on the dirt road was shaken up, causing the servants and the villagers to be deafening and almost untenable. The village chief next to him was already sitting on the ground; the mercenaries were petrified, and didn't dare to say anything again as everyone were looking at each other with fear on their faces; the knights and Olga had the smallest impact as their faces are relieved.
The boy, who was covered behind Olga, leaned against the carriage to not fell to the ground due to his limply legs. His eyes sparkled as he watched Paddington, who was able to calm everyone down with a single shout.
"Outstanding, simply outstanding." Someone clapped his hands and approached Paddington from behind. It was a giant man, almost two meters tall, wearing a leather armor made of animal skin with a wolf head armor pad on his right shoulder. He has a bald head with blue tattoos and scars on his face. This giant is the boss of the mercenaries, Gris. "No doubt that you're a silver rank knight, Sir Edgar. Are my kids bothering you? I am very sorry." He apologized, but any sincerity couldn't be heard in his tone.
Paddington held up the village chief who fell on the ground, comforted him a few words so that he didn't need to worry, and then let him stand aside. The knight walked over to Gris, his head was only to Gris's chest. He punched Gris's chest. "Control your men, this isn't a place where you can do anything you want. If you aren't lucky enough to encounter patrolling Crescent knights, your final moment will be very miserable."
For the Crescent Empire, these pagans who believe in the G.o.ds of light are the property of the Empire, and no one is allowed to plunder them. In the mountains to the west, the robbers may be able to survive, but on the plains, the frequent patrol of the Crescent knights and swordsmen are the nightmare of the robbers.
Paddington's words are both a reminder and a warning.
Gris, punched by Paddington, didn't tremble as if his body was a mountain. "Of course, everything is to follow your instructions, Sir Edgar." When Gris said "Sir Edgar", he deliberately prolonged the syllable, making it sounded like an ugly sorrow tune.
Paddington was unfazed. He was already a middle age man, not a person who can be impulsive because of this little thing.
Gris went to his mercenaries and shouted loudly to get them in their original position of the convoy and stand by. The mercenaries dispersed and the knights released a sigh of relief and put down the hands on their weapon. A dispute was thus resolved.
Olga also released the right hand on the long sword on his waist. He turned around and punched the boy's chest. "Before you want to be a hero, take a good look at whether you have the ability, kid." He didn't use this any force in this punch, only letting the boy's body moved backwards, slightly tilted.
"If I am to be like that person, can I be a hero?" The teenager boy asked, obviously he was talking about Paddington.
Olga showed a smile. "No, you are far away from that. You probably can't keep up with that knight's footsteps for your whole life."
A villager boy, and a knight of the silver rank, is a difference between heaven and earth. The future life of this boy, even if there is any opportunity, even if he meets a good-hearted warrior, he will be a bronze rank fighter at best, just like these mercenaries. If it's to be mixed with these mercenaries, it would be better to be a farmer. As long as it is not war or misfortunes, there will be no life-threating worry.
But this teenager boy seemed to be very good at finding trouble for himself, even if it is for good intentions.
Olga didn't want to give this boy a vain hope so he was being blunt. People like him who may not leave the village for their lifetime, better learn to accept the reality and live a little smoother and humbler life.
Today was his lucky day as he had met such good people as Paddington. If it wasn't for them being here, what would be the end of this boy?
Death isn't the worst. The worst thing is that even the people around you must suffer because of you, and that is the most regrettable heart-wrenching thing.
At this time, the village chief had come closer, pointing to the boy's nose and yelling: "Julius, how dare you treat our guests like this! What if these lords get angry and letting all the people in the village suffer with you. Ten times of your life won't be enough to compensate for it!" The village chief was emotional, blushing and reddening his neck. He can't be blamed for being so angry. Just think about it, if there is such a thing going on in the future, without the help of these n.o.ble knights today's dispute will develop into irreparable consequences.
The teenager boy, known as Julius, wasn't afraid of the accusation of the village chief. He looked up and argued with the chief: "Smelly old man, if it wasn't for me, your shrewish granddaughter would have been dragged away and ruined!"
The village chief pointed at Julius, his hands trembled, but he couldn't say anything else. "You, you..."
Olga stepped forward and walked between the village chief and Julius, separating the two. "Well, this unnecessary quarrel should be over!" He said to the village chief: "Chief, go find your granddaughter, stay in your house and don't come out for a while. There will be no serious or bad consequence. We won't return to the village after we leave here to the forest. About mercenaries, we will watch closely take care of them."
After Olga's consolation, the emotional and uneasy village chief finally calmed down. He took Olga's hand and thanked him, then left and went to Paddington to bid farewell. With the event happened today and hearing the scream of Paddington that stunned everyone on the scene, his mind and body had already become so tired. He has to go back to comfort his poor granddaughter.
The village chief came to Paddington, once again there were more tearful appreciating words, as he almost kneeled before Paddington. "Sir Knight, thank you very much. Without you things will certainly get out of control today."
"I should apologize to you, chief." Paddington took the hand of the village chief, a light that was almost invisible came out from his palm and infiltrated into the body of the village chief - he was using his belief and strength to heal the soul of the village chief that was crushed by his scream. If he doesn't do this, the village chief whose spirit was shattered may not even see it the next year spring.
This time the village chief's mood calmed down completely, and it seemed that the wrinkles on his face were also lighter. "Sir Knight, you are as pure and n.o.ble as the Holy Paladin. Thanks to the G.o.d of Light for letting you appear and protect this village..."
There was a smile on Paddington's face, but it looked a bit bitter. How dare he stand side by side with the Holy Paladin?
The name of the Holy Paladin, to the end of the Dark Sea in the east, to the holy city in the desert across the vast sea in the south, to the coast of the Endless Sea in the west, and to the iceberg to the frozen sea in the north... n.o.body who didn't know, n.o.body who didn't hear. Even the pagan warriors praised his n.o.bleness and courage, calling him "the heroic spirit of the Crescent G.o.d that was stolen by a heretic G.o.d." In the legends, he wore a plate armor bathed in the color of the light, one hand held a knight spear, another held a large sword, his spear can pierce the mountain, his sword can split the sea. He is the most loyal defender of the Twin Eagle Empire and the knight of the church of Holy Spirit who was destined to enter the ranks of the saints.
But this knight of light has become history. In the civil war that caused the Twin Eagle Empire to divide more than a hundred years ago, he was lost in a battle in the Forest of the dead. At first there were people who didn't believe that he was dead, but as time flew, and now, no one believes that he is still alive.
Since then, the Twin Eagle Empire had no guardian knight to protect the country.
End of chapter 2