Chapter 147 – Warm words of hope (9)
The night sky of Senia’s village was quiet and peaceful. Bright stars filled the cloudless sky like paint on an empty canvas with an aurora highlighting it. The forest was quiet enough for one to appreciate the majestic painting.
The village had once again went back to its peaceful self after the quarrels in the Longhouse ended. But at the darker corners of the courtyard which was lit up by the campfire, a small shadow quietly slipped into a warehouse located at the village’s edge.
Sifrid was quietly taking in breaths as she looked carefully to her left and right. Her green eyes were dyed with anxiety as she slowly pushed against the building’s door with her tiny hands. She successfully infiltrated the building and closed it gently from the inside.
The interior was pitch-black, save for the sky-window located at the top which cast a tiny beam of moonlight onto the ground.
However, the buried bloodlines of the Lycanthropes within the Senia’s citizens would awaken in the dark. Her pupils expanded and captured every detail in the dark.
Sifrid took a moment before she found what she came for. She moved towards a vase which contained water and stood on her tiptoes to fill her waterbag. Once she was done she stashed it away and surveyed her surroundings again.
In the end there was no resolution to the quarrels earlier, but Sifrid had made up her mind and decided to travel alone to the Baron.
[The adults said I can save everyone if I present myself before the Lord Baron. If I do so, Father and Grandfather wouldn’t need to fight with them anymore.]
She prayed for everyone to live on properly and not end up like her mother who left her behind for all eternity.
Sifrid sniffled and stopped herself from having her tears from falling. She knew that she would never see her father and grandfather and everyone else ever again if she left.
(Sifrid, you should quickly grow up and stop crying. You’re a citizen of the forest, a true Senia— Mother told me this all the time.)
She wiped her eyes and felt she needed to become strong. But when she thought of her mother’s final moments covered in blood and smiling warmly at her, her tears still fell down like a stream of stars.
“Sifrid, you idiot…..” She rubbed her eyes angrily and bit her lips as she whispered.
After taking a short moment to recompose herself, she went before the storage boxes stored with the clothes worn only at festivals.
She rummaged through the boxes before she found her red dress and leather shoes, She held them up and twirled around, almost in a little dance. She loved their designs and the feel of the material and started to wear them with rapid heartbeats. She was unsure what she was about to meet but she still wanted to fulfill her selfish little wish at this final moment—
She thought that the others would not blame for her wearing the clothes. But even if they did, she was going to do so anyway. She grinned with slight glee at the thought of her little mischief; her earlier tears glittering because her eyes were narrowed with mirth.
[What else have I forgotten? Ah, Mother’s flute.]
The little girl paused for a slight moment before she reluctantly took it down from her neck. She stared it over and over again, rubbing against the wooden grains with her fingertips, before she finally set it aside gently.
“I’ll leave this behind for father,” She muttered: “So Father will remember Mother and me.”
She blinked a few times and parted ways with it. As she walked away, the turned around a few times and looked back at it, before she finally clenched her tiny fists and ran to the door, stopping there. She made sure she did not forget anything before she pushed the door slightly open, peeking outside to ensure no one was there.
Once outside, she started to move towards the village’s entrance. However, after taking a few steps, the little girl felt something cold pressing on her right arm.
She turned around like a small frightened animal, her wide green eyes catching the glimpse of a silver sheathe. She raised her head and saw a familiar pair of warm eyes along with a confident smile.
“Ah……Brother…… Bre—” She said and carefully took a step back.
It was Brendel.
“If you’re heading out, you need to remember to bring something to defend yourself with.” He said with an encouraging voice.
He slowly walked over and knelt down before her. He raised her right hand and pressed the short sword he was carrying onto her palms, before closing her fingers.
Sifrid looked at him in confusion.
“In the end, you decided to go to the Baron by yourself?” He said.
The little girl lowered her head and did not reply. He nodded in response and took a long breath.
“Lady Sifrid, will you allow this knight to accompany you on your journey?” Brendel lowered his head and placed his fist across his heart.
Sifrid’s head rose up in surprise and stared at him. Perhaps he was escorting her to keep her safe along the journey? In the end, she blushed and extended her other empty hand before him. Brendel grasped her hand firmly and stood up.
“Well then, let us take a look what kind of man Lord Baron is.” He said, his soft voice belied the threat behind his words.
She looked at him in confusion once again before comprehension dawned on her.
“But Brother Brendel, y-you will be killed!” She stammered.
“Don’t worry. Just as the Senia desires to have hope for themselves, I too yearn for it—”
He cast an unwavering gaze towards the direction of Trentheim. He raised his left hand and stretched it out before he formed his fingers into a tight fist; he pictured himself swallowing up Graudin’s manor as he said:
“Even if the entire world is against me, I swear I will show you victory before your very eyes, Sifrid—”
============== Graudin’s POV ===========
Even though it was deep within the night the Baron’s manor was still lit up with candles. The hallway had people walking through to and fro noisily, but Graudin stood quietly in his room and looked out the arched stone window with a cold gaze out to the night sky.
The land below were similarly filled lit up with countless torches.
Seven administrative officers stood behind the cruel baron. Their mouths constantly moved like worms, but none of them dared to speak up. In the end it was Graudin’s right hand who bowed at his waist and spoke in his low growling voice:
“My lord, the mercenaries have gathered outside the city in force, I’m worried that our men are not going to be able to suppress them and—”
Graudin’s glare swept across his face and forced his remaining words to remain stuck in his throat.
Graudin whirled around and marched towards the table and swept the top filled with luxurious food with his right arm, causing plates and bowls to crash loudly and spectacularly to the ground. Metallic spoons and forks danced about as everyone got startled. The servants immediately retreated as far as they possibly could to the edge of the room, afraid of their lord’s wrath and getting crucified because of a whim.
The blood of the mercenaries and adventurers had not dried yet—
“You fools.” Graudin’s icy words filled the room: “Let me ask you, why do you think Kerri and his men are not back yet?”
His right hand swallowed and answered: “…… That’s probably because they are blocked outside by the mercenaries.”
“Probably?” Graudin’s eyes narrowed.
“I apologize, my lord, our men are unable to leave the city because of the mercenaries’ blockade. We are unable to receive any news for now……”
“Mercenaries, mercenaries, and still these fucking mercenaries, can’t any of you think of a solution?” He threw a fork at his right hand’s face, causing it to bleed slightly, as he roared: “Why can’t you kill all of them?”
[There are ten large squadrons of mercenaries outside the city, and that’s not counting the adventurers yet. Mother Marsha is already looking out for us because they haven’t launched an attack. We simply don’t have the forces to kill everyone. I even fucking told you not to kill so many of them during the day. It was good enough to teach them a lesson, but you refused to listen and relied on the fact that you have Madara’s army. You stupid arrogant piece of shit. Because of your inability to think of the consequences the situation has gotten out control!]
Graudin’s right hand insulted his lord in his mind, but he did not show any of his discontent on his face, and merely lowered his head as he waited for Graudin to change his mind.
The latter was silent for a while as he realized what the problem was, but he was not too worried.
“Where are the Madara undead?”
“Are you calling them?” His right hand’s head immediately raised up.
“Of course. This problem is partly because of them. Go to them and tell them the truth about our situation. I only want one result; I don’t want to see any of these filthy mercenaries in my lands by tomorrow’s dawn.” Graudin waved his hand to dismiss them.
[You’re really killing them all?]
The expressions of Graudin’s men changed. This was not a small matter to gloss over.
======== Mercenaries’ POV ==========
The mercenaries were indeed gathered outside the city, but not all of them were interested in getting justice from a Feudal Baron.
The bonfire burned with a fiery rage, causing everyone’s faces to be visible near it.
Alistair looked at everyone of them coldly. The people in front of him were mixed with the mercenaries’ leaders and adventurers’ representatives. Some were sellswords who did not belong to any faction. While their faces held angry looks at the same time, the majority of them were hiding their thoughts on what they could gain from this.
The young Acolyte sighed and knew that it was impossible to seek revenge today. But the rage in him continued to burn because so many of his comrades died. He clenched his teeth as he questioned the crowd with full of disdain:
“Do you truly not want to fight Baron Graudin? So many lives have been taken away today and yet you choose to be cowards and stay silent. Has anyone thought about how much they look down on us? Are our lives really worthless and to be wantonly trampled upon?”
Everyone glanced at each other but no one responded.
“Your comrades, friends and companions, their bodies are still crucified in public display; have you resigned yourself to watch them rot?” He tried again.
“Do we just let the baron’s transgression against us go on?” Someone in the crowd whispered.
“What else can we do? That fucking Graudin is directly under the king, A Feudal Baron.”
“And that gives him the right to kill us?” Alistair retorted in fury when he heard the whispers: “I don’t see any laws that allow him to do so!”