Chapter 339 – Retreating
Zhao Hai stood at the hotel's lobby quietly. He didn't expect the Shelley Hotel to be this protective even here. They really didn't want to compromise the safety of their guests.
Zhao Hai took a deep breath and calmly headed outside. As he arrived at the door, he noticed at least more than a thousand cavalry soldiers outside, 2 meters away from the hotel's perimeter. They wore fine steel full body armor, carrying a kite shield at their back, and had a sheathed double-handed broadsword on their waists. Additionally, they had knight's spears inserted on their saddles, with a triangular flag accessory on the spearhead that looked eye catching when blown by the wind.
The horse that they rode in were also extraordinary. Although they were horses, all of them were nearly four meters tall with a pure black body. There were two curved long horns on their head as well as red eyes, they looked very terrifying.
Zhao Hai remembers that he had read about these kinds of magic beasts in the compendium. They were 5th rank horse-type magic beasts with a simple name, Devil Horses! They had the dark attribute, can be as tall as six meters, with high magic talent. They can cast blood magic's 'Siphon', dark element spells 'Weaken', 'Slow', and 'Confusion', they're very difficult to deal with.
Zhao Hai also noted the saddles the cavalry used, they were specially designed with two stirrups on both sides, allowing for easier mounting.
When the leading knight saw Zhao Hai, he didn't take note of him. For the knight, Zhao Hai was just merely a tool used to cause trouble with Shelley Hotel. Even if Zhao Hai didn't come today, they would still find trouble with the hotel.
In his mind, he didn't have any beef with Zhao Hai, only with the hotel. He needed something or someone as an excuse, as to whoever they used, he didn't care.
But he didn't know that he just offended someone he shouldn't. He thought that the other party as just a pawn that he could use casually and then discard at will. He didn't expect that this piece he used today would be covered with thorns.
Zhao Hai looked at the knight and said, "I heard that you are looking for me? May I know why?"
The knight turned his head to Zhao Hai and demanded, "Wales, you're suspected for being a spy, you'll have to come with us." The knight understood Shelley Hotel clearly. He knew that the hotel will not let him take their guests easily. As the matter stands, he has no way to trash the hotel, but the resident can be coaxed to leave.
Zhao Hai looked at the knight and smiled faintly, "I am an Aksu Empire noble, what evidence do you have to prove that I am indeed a spy? If you don't have one, then I'll assume that the Rosen Empire is insulting my Aksu Empire's nobles. It will surely develop into a diplomatic dispute."
The Knight didn't care about Zhao Hai's words, he shouted, "Don't waste your breath, you're in Rosen Empire so you'll need to follow the customs of the empire. Obediently follow us, or else it would be messy."
Just as the hotel attendant was about to say something. Zhao Hai's face sank, "Sir Knight has such great courage, what a pity that you annoyed someone you shouldn't annoy". Upon hearing Zhao Hai's words, the knight couldn't help but stare at Zhao Hai. This was because he couldn't see anything special in him.
At the same time, Zhao Hai waved his staff and one giant golem after another started to appear. In the end, there were more than 20 of them.
When the Knight saw what just happened, his complexion sank. He didn’t' think that Zhao Hai was a mage, with a high rank at that. Being able to summon this many stone golems without muttering a spell was an amazing feat.
The Knight grabbed his spear and reached for his shield. At the same time he commanded, "Prepare to meet the enemy! Go backwards and prepare the formation."
The knights behind him were obviously well-trained. They quickly prepared like the head knight and drove their mounts to slowly retreat. They slowly drew back and prepared for a sufficient distance for a charge. For heavy cavalry like them, the might of their charges were quite formidable. At minimum, their charge would be able penetrate at least five layers of infantry.
Zhao Hai waved his staff a second time and with a soft voice he said, "Bind!". Strands of wind immediately wrapped around the mount's legs, making them very sluggish. The Cavalry's movements suddenly slowed considerably.
The head Knight's face sank even more. He was a veteran soldier who had experienced a lot of battles. He knew that Zhao Hai just used wind element magic, making him a dual-element mage. No matter where they were, this was a type of person that a small knight like him can't afford to offend.
Unfortunately for him, Zhao Hai's spectacle hasn't ended yet. Zhao Hai waved his staff a third time and said, "Engulf!". The knights, who were slowly retreating, were suddenly surrounded by a huge fiery circle. The fires were roaring, were about a meter high, and seemed to get closer bit by bit, it looked extremely menacing.
Most magic Beasts, with the exception of those with fire attribute, were terrified of fire. When the fires came out, the knights' mounts immediately felt hesitant. But since they were well trained mounts, they calmed down after a time of coaxing. However, the head knight's complexion was extremely ugly, he knew that he just offended a tri-element mage.
Zhao Hai coldly looked at the Knight and in a deep voice he said, "Stop, if you dare move, I won't be polite."
The head knight knew that Zhao Hai was serious. If Zhao Hai really wanted to deal with them, he wouldn't trap them here. He could just have the stone golems directly attack.
The Knight stopped and bowed to Zhao Hai, "We have offended mister, please forgive me. This time it was a misunderstanding, a false report might have been given. Please forgive us."
Zhao Hai looked at the head knight, "Good, since you said so I wouldn't hold you for much longer. I just don't want to be disturbed again. You can go." Then he waved his hand as the stone golems, binding spell, and the fiery circle vanished.
Seeing Zhao Hai retrieve his spells, the head knight could help but release a sigh of relief. He bowed to Zhao Hai and said, "I thank mister, myself and the others will now excuse ourselves." He said as he gave a signal for the others to retreat.
Zhao Hai didn't want to give these knights a heavy punishment. He was clear that he was currently inside Rosen Empire, and their status was that of Aksu Empire citizens. If they had a deep conflict with the knights, he feared that the Rosen Empire wouldn't let him off lightly.
He also knew that the other party only came to cause trouble for the hotel and not to him. Naturally, the other party also wouldn't want to offend a formidable Mage.
Looking at the retreating cavalry, the hotel manager immediately went to Zhao Hai and bowed, "Thanks a lot mister. It was our mistake to disturb mister's rest, please let the payment for mister's room be our apology."
Zhao Hai showed a faint smile and said, "Manager doesn't need to be too polite, me and your Shelley hotel could be said to have a little friendship. I had some dealings with Manager Illin from Sarte City, so we could say that I have some connections to the hotel."
Hearing Zhao Hai, the manager couldn't help but stare as though he remembered something. He immediately expressed his happiness and said, "So you were that Mister Wales, I had been very rude to mister, please forgive me." Then he invited Zhao Hai back to the hotel.
After Zhao Hai had his meal, he was invited to the manager's office and sat down. Upon sitting down, the manager immediately said, "Mister Wales, let me introduce myself. My name is Fuin, the manager for Hundred Battles Fortress' Shelley Hotel. A few days ago, I had actually received a message from Illin saying that we had a cooperation with mister Wales. But since there were a lot of things currently going on in my branch, I didn't manage to pay mister any attention, I ask mister to forgive me."
Zhao Hai showed a faint smiled and said, "Manager Fuin shouldn’t' be too polite. I only intend to pass through here, it's no big deal, Manager doesn't need to worry about it."
Fuin smiled as he replied, "No matter what, we had been rude. Along with Illin's message, he asked us to pay special attention to mister, he said that mister doesn't need to pay as long as he stays at our hotels. I had been very busy lately so I didn't notice mister's arrival. In a sense, I had to thank those knights, or else I wouldn't know that mister has arrived. Hehe. If I didn't know, Illin would never forgive me for asking for mister's money. He certainly wouldn't let me off."
Zhao Hai smiled, "Manager is too kind. We're immediately heading to Carson City tomorrow, no need to trouble yourself."
Fuin wore an apologetic face as he talked to Zhao Hai, "Mister Wales, I'm afraid that your travels this time would be a bit troublesome. A strong power inside the empire had been looking for trouble with us. This time, mister offended those knights, so they might retaliate. The person who wanted to get rid of us has a very high standing inside Rosen Empire. I fear that he wouldn’t just let mister off lightly, so he might bother mister quite often. I ask mister to forgive us."
Zhao Hai smiled faintly, "You're talking about Grand Duke Lionheart right? Be relieved, we've already mentally prepared ourselves. Nothing bad will happen to us, manager Fuin doesn’t need to worry too much. Right, manager, I have to go back and rest. We still need to leave tomorrow." Then he stood up and left after assuring Fuin to not worry.
Fuin didn't think that Zhao Hai would know that the person giving the hotel its troubles was Grand Duke Lionheart. Fuin felt the depth of Zhao Hai's capabilities.
Fuin had known that Zhao Hai hadn't visited Rosen Empire before. He just arrived at Hundred Battles Fortress for less than a day and immediately knew that Grand Duke Lionheart was the hotel's rival? Did he have his own information agency inside Rosen Empire?
Fuin thought that the family needed to be informed about this. Their previous information regarding Wales was quite lacking. Zhao Hai's origin was a mystery, but they were sure that him and Purcell Family had some sort of connection. But now it seemed that it wasn't entirely like what it was. At the very least, Purcell Duchy's arms shouldn't be able to reach Rosen Empire.
Note: LoL. no information is safe when it comes to stealth assassins like Shun and Shue.
Chapter 340 – Planning
Actually, Zhao Hai deliberately mentioned Grand Duke Lionheart to Fuin. He wanted to make Fuin think that he's not clueless about everything, making his image in Fuin's mind a bit blurry. It's a simple trick.
Sometimes people speak a little, but sometimes speaking more can achieve the same result. Just like what Zhao Hai had done, just by mentioning that he knew about Grand Duke Lionheart, he made Fuin wonder even more about his origins. This was done so that the next time he and Shelley Hotel does business, he wouldn't be underestimated.
When he returned to his room, Zhao Hai was met by a frowning Laura, "Brother Hai, although we made the cavalry retreat, it's possible that they wouldn't just let us off lightly. We need to make proper preparations just in case."
Zhao Hai showed a faint smile and said, "Of course they wouldn't just leave it like that. Even if the cavalry is fine with us, the Grand Duke wouldn't, be especially when a lot of people heard the conversation between me and Fuin about my business with Shelley Family. When he hears about this, the Grand Duke surely wouldn't just sit still. But as long as he doesn't use official means to deal with us, I'm not afraid of him."
Laura continued to frown, "You also intentionally told Fuin the fact that we're on the same side as the Shelley Family. Even though Lionheart didn't have an initial intention to give us trouble, now he really had to, forcing us to fully side with Shelley Family."
Zhao Hai smiled, "Actually this isn't a bad thing, we didn't need to befriend the Grand Duke anyway. Moreover, the methods he works with were extremely overbearing, I don't want to work with him. Although the Shelley Family is a bit calculating, relatively speaking, their way of doing business is quite modest. We will not suffer losses working with them. I intentionally revealed our connection with the family so that when the Grand Duke decides to deal with us, the family would feel restless. With this, our relationship with them might get even closer."
Laura relaxed when she heard Zhao Hai's intentions, but she still couldn't help but worry, "But is it really good to offend Lionheart just as we entered Rosen Empire? What would happen if Shelley Family loses the fight against the Grand Duke?"
Zhao Hai smiled faintly as he replied, "Right now, we're currently gambling that Shelley Family would win. If they did, our cooperation with them will advance further. And if they lose, it doesn't matter to us, don't forget that we're headed towards Sky Water City. We can rely on our connection with the Calci Family as fellow members of the league. And with Bell's introduction, the Calci Family would certainly act as middlemen in the conflict, I don't think Grand Duke will overreach his bounds just for us."
Laura saw that Zhao Hai had already thought this through, she nodded and said, "What about Ruyen? If the Grand Duke couldn't deal with us, wouldn't he cause trouble for Ruyen?"
Zhao Hai nodded, "It's possible, but no matter what, Ruyen is the Purcell Duchy's princess. Moreover, she came this time to study. I heard that Rosen Empire's institute holds a high standing inside the nation, I think Ruyen will be fine."
Laura nodded. Even though she didn't like Ruyen, she still needs to consider Evan, thus they just can't ignore Ruyen's well-being.
Although Zhao Hai has stated his speculations, Laura was still worried, "What if they cause trouble inside the institute? She's still a young lady unfamiliar with her surroundings and needs help. I'm afraid that she wouldn't be able to find help when she wants to. If something were to happen to her, we wouldn't be able to face Grand Duke Evan."
Zhao Hai sighed, "We really can't help her. Actually, Uncle Evan had her travel far away because he wanted to develop her sense of independence. If everyone was going to help her, Uncle Evan's purpose would have failed."
Laura stared for a moment, she actually forgot about this. She nodded in agreement, the Grand Duke indeed intends to have Ruyen exercise relying only on herself. If they go and help her in her every need, then there's no difference between having her in Casa City or Carson City.
That night, Zhao Hai's surroundings were very calm. The cavalry didn't find any more trouble with them. But now, every merchant inside Hundred Battles fortress have at least heard of Zhao Hai's name. When they were inside Lifeline Canyon, they already knew that Zhao Hai was a 7th rank Fire element Mage. But they didn't think that Zhao Hai's true strength was much more than that.
These merchants became more and more curious of Zhao Hai. He had strength as well as intelligence. All of these buzz made Zhao Hai akin to a firefly in the dark, but more dazzling than that.
The other large forces also began to pay attention to these people who they had never heard before. These large forces knew that they had no chance of pulling Zhao Hai over to their side, but they still wanted to know about him. So that if by chance they manage to get in conflict with him in the future, they may have some ideas on how to deal with him.
Zhao Hai didn't know that these forces had already began to pay attention to him. He thought that he didn't merit such huge attention. The next morning, the group had their breakfast, and under Fuin's farewells, left Hundred Battles Fortress and advanced towards the direction of Carson City.
Ruyen still kept her low profile while on the road. Now, Zhao Hai wasn't worrying about what she would do. Anyway, as long as they manage to escort her to Carson City, their task would have been finished.
Rosen Empire's territory was very large, and their population isn't small either. Therefore, there was no worry for Zhao Hai's group in finding places to stay the night. Shue had spent time in the empire before, so Zhao Hai had him lead the way. They didn't hurry along, instead they moved slowly to better understand Rosen Empire's situation.
At the same time, Zhao Hai was also very vigilant from the time they left Hundred Battles Fortress. They managed to offend those cavalries, so they shouldn't just allow Zhao Hai's group to leave, more so Grand Duke Lionheart who was behind those cavalry.
Even though Zhao Hai hadn't met with Grand Duke Lionheart, he knew about the overbearing methods the Grand Duke usually used. Such overbearing person couldn't even tolerate disobedient subordinates, not to say Zhao Hai who slapped his face.
Furthermore, with Fuin and Zhao Hai showing their amicable relations, looking like long time friends. Lionheart would surely assume Zhao Hai to be Shelley Family's friend, exclusively helping Shelley Hotel. Looking at these facts, it was a definite fact that the Grand Duke will certainly find ways to deal with them.
After leaving Hundred Battles Fortress, Zhao Hai felt that the atmosphere wasn't quite right. The road from Hundred Battles Fortress to Carson City should be very busy at this time, but instead they couldn't see a single person, the scene closely resembled the Black Wastelands.
Zhao Hai knew that there were people who wanted to confront them. He just didn't think that they would go as far as emptying out the entire road just to deal with him. As long as one wasn't a complete idiot, it would be very clear as to why those people would do this.
Zhao Hai looked at the situation and immediately had Laura and the others enter the Space. At the same time he had Blockhead go on standby, he also had someone inform Ruyen of the situation. Ruyen's group became very serious, they knew that their strengths fell short compared to Zhao Hai.
Two hours after leaving Hundred Battles fortress, they still didn't receive any attacks. Not only did they not receive any attacks, they also didn't meet a single person. This situation brought great pressure to the group. They were tense since they didn't know when the enemy would attack.
They still aren't that far from Kolan Mountain Range, so the area was still very hilly. Oftentimes, there would be two hills on both sides of the road. Although the hills weren't that high, the everpresent trees on the hills were tall and lush, which was a sufficient area to wait for an ambush.
Of the group, Ruyen's guards were the most tensed while Zhao Hai fared better, he sat down inside his carriage gazing at the monitor. If there was to be an ambush nearby, he should be able to detect it.
After another two hours, he still didn't see a single person on the monitor. This made Zhao Hai confused, he didn't expect the other party to have this much patience. After more than two hours, they still managed to keep their hands.
But at this time, the monitor suddenly showed green spots. The green spots were very dense and seem to contain thousands of people. They were placed on the hills on both sides of the road.
Zhao Hai stared for a moment before he pulled the monitor closer. He saw that the other party was a Magic Beast Heavy Cavalry unit. They wore full body armor, carried a shield on their backs, had their greatswords on their sheaths as well as their spears. They were positioned on the slopes on the sides of the hills. It seemed that they were waiting at a distance for their exhausted prey to arrive.
The knights on the hillside didn't bother to hide themselves. They just stood there with their shining armors that Zhao Hai could see them easily. It seemed like they want to attack Zhao Hai's group in a straightforward manner.
Seeing the situation, Zhao Hai immediately gave his ghost staff to a blood hawk and had it fly to the sky. He wanted to make sure that there weren't any other troops laying in ambush. If there weren't any, he could safely prepare his own counterattack.
The hawk flew at a large circle around their location and didn't spot any other ambush, only these cavalry. It seems like they had extreme confidence that they could kill Zhao Hai, so they didn't prepare any other ambush. This decision helped Zhao Hai since he didn't need to make any other complicated plans, he wanted to have his own Fighting Bull undead cavalry appear. With the upgrades they received, they could be considered as the most elite type of Magic Beast cavalry in the entire continent.