Book 8, The Ten Thousand Kilometer Journey – Chapter 18, The Prefectural City of Cerre
The desolate wilderness.
The tens of people escorting the carriage were all dead. The black blood oozing from their bodies made the scene all the more sinister. Holmer, in turn, had been smashed to death by a single blow from Haeru. Jenne and Keane, who had watched this all from the carriage, were totally stunned.
“Big brother Ley.” Keane called out in alarm. Jenne’s face was rather pale as well.
Just as Linley was about to respond, that old servant, Lambert, who was driving the carriage suddenly called out in surprise as he stared at the corpse of Holmer. “Him! He’s the deadliest killer in Cerre City, Holmer. That old freak who styled himself an apothecary.”
“Holmer? Grandpa Lambert, who are you talking about?” Keane looked at Lambert.
Lambert took a deep breath. “Young master, young miss, this Holmer was an extremely dangerous individual within Cerre City. In the past, when I was serving your mother in the city, I encountered him a few times. At the time, Count Wade had mentioned this Holmer to your mother as well. This Holmer is an extremely skilled user of poisons. Although he is only a warrior of the sixth rank, he once killed a combatant of the ninth rank.”
Only now did Jenne and Keane understand.
Linley, listening to the side, nodded as well.
“This Holmer is extremely greedy. Most likely, his actions this time were at the direction of the senior madame as well.” Lambert’s face was extremely solemn. “The senior madame really has her mind set on killing you!”
“With big brother Ley, we have nothing to fear!” Keane was very confident. Jenne also looked confidently at Linley.
“Enough. Let’s head out immediately so we can arrive sooner at Cerre.” Linley said directly. Linley’s group immediately made haste towards the prefectural city of Cerre, leaving behind a cloud of dust on the desolate road.
The prefectural city of Cerre. This was a city with around two to three hundred thousand people. Its red walls stretched off into the distance. In terms of architecture, the buildings of Cerre tended towards the ornate.
Keane pushed open the door to the carriage. Seeing the beautiful, majestic city in front of them, Keane’s heart was filled with boundless ambition. His eyes lit up, and he said, “From this day forth, I shall be the master of this prefectural city.”
Outside the city gates.
“Black panther?” When the gate guards saw Linley’s mount from the distance, they had immediately called out to the other guards nearby, “Quick, someone go speak with the madame. The person she spoke of is arriving.”
A gate guard immediately ran towards the hotel located nearest to the city gates, rushing up to the second floor. At this moment, there was a warrior stationed outside the stairway. Seeing that it was a gate guard who was running this way, the warrior allowed him passage.
“Madame Countess.” The guard fell respectfully to one knee.
“Madame Countess, the expert riding a black panther which you spoke of has arrived. There is a carriage behind him.”
“What?” Before Madame Wade had reacted, the two brothers of her who were standing behind her called out in alarm.
Madame Wade frowned. “Leave for now.”
“Yes.” The guard respectfully withdrew.
Right now, both of Madame Wade’s brothers were growing frantic. Her eldest brother hurriedly said, “Sis, they actually survived their journey to Cerre. Can it be that Holmer, that old freak, failed?”
“Hard to say.”
Madame Wade was frowning. “Perhaps that expert with the black panther who was escorting those two countryside-raised siblings didn’t come on the main road from Redsand City. Perhaps they intentionally took a detour and caused Holmer and the others to miss them.”
Hearing her words, her two brothers couldn’t help but nod.
Indeed, it was very possible that their opponents had craftily taken a roundabout path enroute to Cerre City.
“Then what should we now do?” Madame Wade’s two brothers looked at her.
“Go down and welcome them.” A hint of a smile was on Madame Wade’s face. “My two darling children have returned, after suffering for so many years. They are finally back. As their loving aunt, how can I not go welcome them?”
And as she spoke, Madame Wade headed down the stairs.
Right as they walked out of the main door of the hotel, Madame Wade saw the tall and sturdy man with a heavy sword on his back who was riding a handsome black panther, as well as the familiar face of Lambert.
“Oh, Lambert, long time no see.” Madame Wade immediately called out in a high pitched voice.
Linley, Jenne, Keane, and Lambert all swung their heads to look at her. Lambert started, then respectfully said, “Senior madame.”
Madame Wade laughed warmly. “These two children should be Jenne and Keane. Jenne is even more beautiful than before, and she looks more like her mother now as well. Keane isn’t the child that he used to be either. He’s even more handsome now.”
Jenne and Keane could both recognize Madame Wade.
Although nearly eight years had passed, Madame Wade’s appearance hadn’t changed much, with the exception of a slight wrinkle at the corner of her eyes.
“Senior madame.” Jenne and Keane both paid their respects.
“Wonderful, wonderful. And there’s no need to stand on courtesy.” Madame Wade chortled, then looked at Linley. “And this is?”
“This is big brother Ley.” Keane hurriedly answered.
“Ley?” Madame Wade’s eyelids flickered, then she laughed. “Oh, Mr. Ley. I imagine it must have been you who protected and escorted them to Cerre City. I absolutely must thank you on behalf of Jenne and Keane. Come, let’s all go to the castle. Tonight, I am going to arrange a magnificent banquet for my two poor little children.”
The castle of the city governor was a square block, and was quite an imposing sight.
“What a useless fellow.” After hearing the news which the messenger knights had delivered, Madame Wade was even more furious.
Holmer had been a chess piece that she had trusted.
But now that Holmer had failed, Madame Wade felt extremely frustrated.
“With that Mr. Ley present, it will very hard for me to kill Keane.” Madame Wade was extremely angry. “Poison? The poison used by ordinary poison experts won’t be able to escape detection. Assassins? How many can deal with this Ley?”
Madame Wade’s eyes slowly sharpened.
“Looks like there’s only that one method left.” The worry disappeared from Madame Wade’s eyes. The only thing left was confidence and callousness.
Within the enormous dining room of the castle, the giant glass chandelier had been lit, casting its resplendent, bewitching light upon the room. All of the nobles of Cerre City were present today.
“I’ve heard that Count Wade’s son has returned. I wonder how Madame Wade will deal with this.”
“Who knows? But Madame Wade definitely will not give up her authority.”
“Madame Wade is extremely vicious. Sadly for her, her baby boy died in the arms of a woman. What a joke.” The various nobles chatted in soft tones.
Whom amongst them did not know that Madame Wade was a tyrannical, domineering woman? But since they lived in Cerre City, at most they would mock her in private. They didn’t dare to publicly offend her.
“Madame Wade has arrived.”
Instantly, all of the gossiping nobles ceased their discourse. They all turned to look towards Madame Wade, who had just descended from the stairway. Madame Wade still looked as stately and arrogant as she ever had.
Madame Wade enjoyed the attention of the people present. She tilted her head up slightly as she descended.
“Everyone.” Madame Wade laughed. “Today is a joyous occasion. Those two poor children of mine, who have suffered outside for eight years, have finally returned today.”
At this time, two more people suddenly appeared at the stairway.
One was a young man wearing a black gentleman’s suit, while the other was a golden-haired young lady wearing a white, full-bodied dress. They came out together, and the eyes of many nobles lit up.
Although Jenne was dressed very simply, when matched with her appearance, her figure, and her kind, innocent demeanor, she was a soul-stirring sight. Many young nobles present made up their minds to go over later and ask who that girl was.
“Jenne, Keane, come.” Madame Wade called out to them warmly.
Jenne and Keane walked down the stairway together, standing besides Madame Wade. Madame Wade called out warmly, “This is Jenne. Look, what a beautiful girl she is. And this handsome young man is Keane.” Madame Wade sighed emotionally. “Jenne and Keane have finally escaped their bitter lives. But their mother, my dear sister…” Madame Wade’s eyes grew red, as though she were about to cry.
“Senior madame, if the second madame knew how much you cared about her, she would undoubtedly be very moved.” An ancient voice rang out, and Lambert walked in with Linley by his side.
Madame Wade glanced at Lambert.
Lambert was previously the second madame’s most faithful servant. Even after the second madame had fallen into dire straits, he continued to follow her without complaint.
Jenne and Keane felt extremely unhappy as well.
They knew that the reason for their mother’s deaths and those eight bitter years they had suffered were all caused by this senior madame in front of them. Jenne knew how to hide her thoughts, but the fourteen year old Keane ridiculed angrily, “Senior madame, why didn’t you ever come visit us during these eight years? We’ve missed you so terribly.”
Madame Wade’s facial expression didn’t change at all. She sighed, “All these years, I’ve been working on behalf of Cerre City, and I’ve never had time. Every time I think about this, I feel I’ve mistreated the two of you.”
Linley suddenly laughed and said directly, “Madame Wade, Count Wade has now passed away, and Keane is his successor. The reason he has returned this time is to assume the position of city governor. Madame Wade, I wonder if you have already decided on a date for Keane to assume the city governor’s position?”
Everyone in the dining room fell silent upon hearing these words.
All of the nobles present knew that the main act of the play was starting.
At the same time, all of the nobles stared at Linley in puzzlement. They didn’t know where this youngster had come from, for him to dare to so boldly and directly say these words.
“Mr. Ley.” Madame Wade’s face grew hard, and she said coldly, “As their aunt, I must thank you for escorting Jenne and Keane to Cerre City. But the question of Keane taking over the governorship is an internal affair of our clans. It isn’t very appropriate for you, an outsider, to get involved, is it?”
Keane immediately refuted, “And who says big brother Ley is an outsider?”
“If he isn’t an outsider, what is he?” Madame Wade’s face was very cold.
Keane was startled, then he looked up at Linley and said, “Big brother Ley is, is, is my sister’s fiancé. How could he be an outsider?”
“Fiancé?” Madame Wade was flabbergasted.
Jenne was flabbergasted.
Linley was flabbergasted.
“Fiancé?” Linley immediately looked at Keane. Keane only winked at Linley. Linley immediately understood what Keane meant.
Right at this moment, Jenne’s face turned red.
“How about that?” Keane arrogantly tilted his head up. “My brother-in-law to be is qualified to discuss this, isn’t he? Aunt, my father is dead, as is my elder brother. I am now the primary successor.”
Madame Wade was silent.
All of the people present looked at Madame Wade. Keane’s position as primary successor to the governorship was indisputable and protected by imperial law. They wanted to see how Madame Wade would handle it.
“Haha, Keane, what’s the rush?” Madame Wade laughed. “Your father is dead, and you are his only surviving son. Naturally, you are his primary successor. The governorship is yours, of course. No one will take it from you.”
Linley looked suspiciously at Madame Wade.
Linley wasn’t alone. Everyone’s hearts were filled with suspicion. Madame Wade wasn’t the sort to so easily give up.
“Then thank you, aunt.” Keane smiled. “Then when shall I assume the governorship?” Madame Wade chuckled, “No rush, no rush. Right now, Keane, you aren’t of age yet. How about this. In two years, when you reach the age of maturity, you can assume the governorship.”
“Two years later?” Keane stared.
Madame Wade was beaming. “Keane, be a good boy. You aren’t of age yet. You don’t have enough ability to manage a city. Don’t worry. Two years from now, you will definitely be the governor of the prefectural city of Cerre.”