Chapter 611: The Mountain Pass Town
And half of the volunteers for the Theonian Rugby Championships came from the students of the senior class of the School of Thurii and the Akademia of Theonia. Davos’ primary intention was for these young talents of the kingdom, who were not yet 18 years old and had no experience in public office, to hone some practical skills in addition to their studies, which would be more beneficial for their future development.
And the young man before Garni was from the Akademia of Theonia, who whispered something to the slave behind him, and the slave immediately turned around and ran into the town’s gate. Afterwards, the young man told Garni, “You must be exhausted from your journey over the mountains from Abellinum to Thurii. Usually, you could have a night’s rest in the town, but the festivities would begin the day after tomorrow. What’s more, you need more time to prepare for the tournament, so we’d better hurry to the campsite now-”
“Why are you talking too much rubbish? We’re not exhausted, so let’s go!” a Samnite shouted.
“Tatoni!” Garni glared at his subordinate. Although the young man wasn’t old, he could see from his temperament and the four muscular slaves following him that this young man was definitely the son of a statesman or an important official of the kingdom of Theonia. Thus he didn’t want to offend him for no reason.
On the other hand, the young man didn’t think it much. Instead, after realising they had been standing in front of the gates and delayed the travellers, he hurriedly led the Samnites into the mountain pass town.
The town’s topography resembles a horn, surrounded by treacherous mountains stretching eastward. In the middle is a flat lowland with slight undulations. And in front of them was a winding road with both sides having shops and stalls of all kinds, making it so crowded that the travellers had no place to settle. Lastly, the rear has countless houses built along the mountain…
The various shoutings of the merchants were like the cries of cicadas in the trees in summer as they endlessly rang into the ears of the people and irritated them. At the same time, some merchants would stop the travellers outright trying to sell their goods or invite them to stay in their lodgings. It was only after the Samnites rudely refused them a few times that no one no longer bothered the stout, fierce-looking travellers anymore.
After walking for a long time, the terrain became much broader, and the surrounding area was no longer so crowded.
Suddenly, the young man said, “Chieftain Garni, you have walked so far in this hot weather, so you must be thirsty. Here, drink some honey water first and then continue our travel.”
Following where the young man pointed, Garni saw a stall selling drinks on the road ahead, and the slave who had left earlier was standing next to it, waving.
At the young man’s remark, Garni subconsciously licked his dry lips. However, he hesitated a bit as he knew that buying a drink here should be expensive, and he was reluctant to spend it here. He then thought, ‘It would be better to wait until we reached the Tiro river and drink from there.’
Seemingly seeing through his mind, the young man said loudly, “We have already paid for the drinks. We can only pour it out if you don’t drink it.”
As soon as he spoke, the other already impatient Samnites rushed up to it, held up the drinks and poured them into their mouth. The cool and sweet honey water not only quenched their thirst but also alleviated their hunger. But after drinking one cup, they still felt dissatisfied, so they picked up another.
“This…this will cost you a lot…” The usually outspoken Garni was also somewhat embarrassed at this moment.
“You accepted our invitation and climbed the mountains to come to Thurii. With you working so hard just to attend our Theonia’s festivities, it is only natural for us to take good care of you, our honoured guests, as its host. And this is just a small expense!” The young man thought it was only natural and spoke words, unlike his age.
Garni was touched. After putting down the cup, he asked, “What’s your name? How come you know that I am Garni? I don’t remember telling you my name?!”
The young man said calmly, “I am Crotokatax. The official who sent me to meet you had told me that the one leading the Samnite team was a chieftain named Garni, and I know that only nobles among the Samnites would wear a white tunic, and you are the only one in your group who wore a white tunic, so…”
“You seemed to know a lot about us Samnites!” Garni looked at him in surprise.
“My father told me all about this.” The young man said modestly, “My father said that the Samnites are brave warriors that deserve our respects!”
‘A brave warrior?!’ Garni would have thought the young man was mocking him if he had not seen the genuine sincerity on his face. Were the Samnites brave? How could they kill each other in one night out of fear if they were? And that massive army was defeated by the Theonians without even having a chance to fight them head-on! While he himself had ended up as a prisoner and had to rely on the strength of his former enemies, the Theonians, to regain his footing in Abellinum and reclaim his father’s position as chieftain back then!…
Garni suddenly felt the honey water in his mouth become tasteless. After spitting out on the ground, he shouted, “It’s time for us to hurry!” And with that, he advanced forward.
The other Samnites quickly drank the water, stroked their round bellies, and followed Garni.
After walking along a ridge, they finally came out of the mountain pass town.
Suddenly, they heard someone shout, “Chieftain Garni! Chieftain Garni!”
It was the Potentian Genta who shouted as he rushed to Garni’s side.
While the Samnites not only gave way but also helped his herdsmen lead the cattle and sheep.
“Genta, you aren’t going to stay in the small town?” Garni asked casually.
“If I get accommodation, where would my cattle and sheep stay?! Besides, I need to hurry to the livestock market in Thurii while saving money as long as I can and hurry to sell this batch of livestock!” Genta said.
“You are a Potentian, so why don’t you sell them to Poseidonia or Irna instead of going all the way to Thurii?” Someone nearby asked.
Genta looked and saw a strange young man, so he asked doubtfully, “You are?”
“Crotokatax, the city hall of Thurii sent me to welcome chieftain Garni.” replied the young man.
Hearing that, Genta no longer underestimated the boyish-looking young man and said, “Poseidonia and Irna aren’t big enough and too close to us, so the price of livestock there is too low. Furthermore, I might be unable to sell them because there aren’t enough customers. Last year, I heard that Thurii in September of every year, because of Hades’ Day and the Rugby Championship, would have too many people coming to Thurii to watch the game, so all the food in the market would be sold at a high price. And one sheep could even go for more than 30 drachmaes, so I decided to try it this year…”
“It’s more than a hundred kilometres from Potentia and Thurii. In addition, most of the paths are mountainous with countless wild animals that make it difficult for people to traverse, let alone livestock. Are you not afraid of any accidents happening to them?” asked the young man curiously.
“That’s right, alas…” When Genta heard this, it was as if he had met a friend and immediately poured out his grievances, “I set out with 120 sheep and 15 cattle. Yet now, only 108 sheep and 12 cattle were left. The others had either run away during the journey, were carried away by wolves, had their legs broken, or got sick from eating something bad and fell ill. In the end, I had to kill them…”
Genta pointed to the fresh cattle and sheep skins carried by some of the herdsmen, and his face showed pain, “I just hope that this time, I would be able to sell my remaining cattle and sheep for a good price in Thurii’s market. Otherwise, my people and I will lose too much! sigh…”
As the young man listened carefully, one of the slaves whispered a few words in his ears. Then the young man’s handsome face showed a bit of sympathy, “You are right about the price of the sheep in Thurii’s market now sells for more than 30 drachmaes, and a cattle could even fetch for 80 drachmaes. Unfortunately, other merchants also had the same idea as you and would often come to Thurii at this time. Hence the shops and stalls in the port and city market simply can not accommodate so many merchants, and in previous years there were even many riots because of this. Thus this year, the city hall of Thurii has come up with a new rule that only merchants who are citizens of the kingdom are allowed to enter the two markets during the festivities. Following these rules, you can’t sell your livestock at the port and city market.”
Upon hearing this, Genta couldn’t believe it as he loudly argued, “We Potentians are also part of the kingdom of Theonia, and we in Potentia are also Theonians! So we should also get the kingdom’s preferential treatment!”
The young man shook his head and said, “Potentia is only a free city of the kingdom.”
With the young man talking confidently, Garni was surprised to see that this boyish-looking young man showed a bit of dignity that ordinary young people didn’t possess.
But Genta didn’t notice it as he was dumbfounded and angry after hearing the young man’s words, “Since we are not allowed to sell in the market, we will just sell it outside! With how big Thurii is, there must be a place for us to sell our livestock!”
After hearing that, the young man reminded him seriously, “Besides the two markets, Thurii had indeed set up several temporary markets located around the campsites and arenas for the several participants, but Theonian merchants have the priority. Unfortunately, it isn’t allowed to sell livestock outside the livestock market, mainly because it pollutes the surrounding environment and they make too much noise. Once found by the patrol team, they might severely punish you and even seize your livestock!”