Chapter 329: Friends
The day had yet to brighten completely. In the soft purple and grey glow of dawn, the morning light slowly chased away the darkness in the sky as cool winds gently blew over. The golden sun slowly burst out with a thousand rays of splendor after a while.
Upon their return to Brettel City, Han Shuo and Dorcas were surprised to find that Faulke and the knights had also just arrived. Han Shuo could see traces of battle from their bodies and even see that some had disappeared eternally.
Dorcas rode on a thin, weak horse that had been taken from the bandits as he slowly followed Han Shuo back to Brettel City. Upon entering the city, the first things to greet his eyes were two mighty magic crystal cannons mounted on the city walls. Not only were the previously old broken down walls now shining brightly, their height had also increased. Looking at the city from a distance, Dorcas even felt that Brettel City had recovered a bit of its former prestige and magnificence.
Nodding to himself, Dorcas turned back to look at Han Shuo, who was quickly entering the city with a slightly darkened expression on his face. Dorcas understood that for Brettel City to have changed like this, the credit entirely belonged to this new city lord.
“What happened? Did something happen again? Where are the merchants and the battle equipment?” Han Shuo was like a ghost drifting by. His cold shout, along with the cool winds of early morning, made the still fearful Faulke jump out of his skin.
Hurriedly turning around to see that it was Han Shuo, Faulke heaved a sigh of relief. He hastily straightened his body and explained, “Your Lordship, some small incidents occurred on our way back. Our torches attracted the attention of many bandit groups, but luckily that area was near Mount Tali. Before the bandits could rush over, the mountain leader Fulkin came down to assist us. The merchants and battle equipment are still safe and sound, and only three knights died.”
Han Shuo’s heart slowly returned to its proper place upon hearing that the merchants and equipment were all safe. He looked at Faulke with a faint nod and said in a softened tone, “Arrange proper funerals for the knights who’ve died. Our top mission is to exterminate all of the bandits in the surroundings before the seven grand duchies arrive.”
“Rest assured, Your Lordship. I, Faulke, swear to take revenge for our brothers!” Faulke’s tone was determined as he took out his sword to point it towards the sky and solemnly make a vow.
Dorcas rode the weak horse over to this side with clopping sounds. He’d taken meticulous looks at the city’s defensive measures, contemplation filled his eyes. When he arrived in front of Han Shuo, Dorcas looked at the latter with a measuring look before opening his mouth to propose, “There were seventeen bandit groups between Brettel City and Seamist City. Taking away the five that you annihilated last night, there are still twelve left. The scales of these bandit groups aren’t much, but they are as annoying as hateful flies. I think you should exterminate them first. Otherwise the safety of the merchants won’t be guaranteed later.”
“Your Lordship, are all of those greedy bandits dead?” Faulke queried upon hearing Dorcas’ words.
Nodding his head, Han Shuo answered, “That’s right. All five bandit groups are finished. Mhm, let me introduce someone to you. This is Dorcas from the Imperial Academy of Strategy. Perhaps you’ve heard about some of his past deeds. He will be your comrade from now on. No one is allowed to mention his identity as a fugitive in the future.”
“Yes, Your Lordship!” Faulke immediately replied, his eyes looking at Dorcas with a hint of admiration. He also didn’t ask Han Shuo why Dorcas was joining Brettel City. It had been this person who’d single-handedly planned the robbery and transaction. Dorcas had held the advantage from beginning to end and played with their group in the palm of his hand. Even Han Shuo ultimately had to surrender the fifty thousand gold coins. The intellect of this person was indeed the real deal.
“Take out a thousand knights for Dorcas from the three thousand you’re training. Dorcas will be the captain of that team!” Han Shuo gave Faulke an order before looking over to Dorcas, “Dorcas, wipe out the remaining twelve bandit groups between Brettel City and Seamist City for me!”
Dorcas dismounted from the weak warhorse and saluted Han Shuo with a standard military posture. He said crisply and neatly, “Yes, Your Lordship!”
Nodding his head, Han Shuo once again turned towards Faulke and said, “The equipment for the city’s defenses that have just arrived are for you to assemble in the appropriate positions.
Do this well for me during this time, as well as keep an eye on other matters within the city. Prepare to deal with the attacks of the bandits and seven grand duchies at any moment.”
“Rest assured, Your Lordship. With this defensive equipment, I will make sure that anyone who dares to come and pillage Brettel City pay with their blood.” Faulke promise.
“Mm. Right, what arrangements did you make for the merchants?” Han Shuo asked Faulke, suddenly remembering that he hadn’t seen little fatty Jack in a long time, and also Fabian as well.
“I’ve arranged places for them in the city lord’s mansion. Your Lordship’s mansion is quite large and is currently the safest place in Brettel City, so I have arranged for the honored merchants to be located there.” Faulke answered.
“Well done. I won’t pursue your negligence any longer. Dorcas is a new addition to Brettel City, so help him familiarize himself with the city. Also, place a thousand soldiers under his command.” Han Shuo gave his orders. He nodded towards Dorcas before leaving the city gates.
Han Shuo appeared in the city lord’s mansion after a short while. More than ten merchants had been settled in. These merchants had fallen into a deep sleep, like dead pigs after the big fright. One or two of them occasionally whimpered in their nightmares, their bodies drenching in cold sweat.
Little Jack of the Boozt Merchant Guild was tightly hugging a pillow, the corner of his mouth dripping with saliva in his sleep. Han Shuo soundlessly walked in front of him. He revealed a knowing smile upon seeing Jack’s ugly sleeping posture.
Back in the necromancy department at the Babylon Academy, Han Shuo recalled how he and little fatty Jack had swept the ground quickly with brooms. He also remembered when his body had still been weak and his magical cultivation still hadn’t taken shape, this little fatty had stolen black bread to feed him. Han Shuo even recalled the time that he fought with other necromancy students…
Separated for more than two years, little fatty Jack actually hadn’t changed too much, he was still ever so simple and honest. However, his body was becoming increasingly fatter. It was Han Shuo himself who’d changed the most. During these past two years, Han Shuo had grown from an errand boy to the point where no one dared to look down on him, be it his intelligence or his strength.
Having experienced one dangerous battle after another, Han Shuo’s body, mental strength, and magical yuan had developed rapidly. He’d made breakthroughs again and again, many times with his life on the line. And now, he held the titles of count and city lord. As for this little fatty who lusted after food and wealth all day, he was still an accountant for the Boozt Merchant Guild.
“This brat will keep eating and drinking well in the Boozt Merchant Guild and won’t have to meet with any danger. Phoebe gives me face and takes special care of him. Although his days aren’t as interesting, they’re very peaceful!” Han Shuo smiled and murmured as he looked at the drooling, sleeping fatty.
Not waking up little fatty Jack from his deep sleep, Han Shuo stood outside the window to look at him for a while. He then turned to leave, intending to chat later after he woke up.
Han Shuo had just taken a few steps when he heard a sudden, loud cry from inside Fabian’s room. He hastily walked into Fabian’s room and found the latter sitting up on the bed, drenched with sweat and a look of fear still lingering on his face. It turned out that he’d had a terrifying nightmare.
Seeing Han Shuo suddenly come in, the newly jolted awake Fabian cried out once again. Only when he discovered that the person who’d come was Han Shuo, did Fabian shut his mouth. He turned to give Han Shuo an ugly smile before saying with a somewhat embarrassed expression, “These past several years with the young miss have been all too peaceful. After encountering such a dangerous incident once again, I’ve discovered that I’m becoming more and more afraid of death. Maybe I’ve gotten too old now. I can no longer tolerate dangerous adventures like I used to. I just want to continue my life with quiet, peaceful days!”
Hearing Fabian say so, Han Shuo recalled the first time they met and revealed a relaxed smile. He found himself a chair and sat down, before saying to Fabian, “Such is life. If you want more wealth and a more prominent position, you have to put in more effort and handle greater danger. Heh, it was my carelessness that caused you guys to encounter this kind of incident this time. Fortunately everyone came out unscathed, otherwise I really wouldn’t be able to forgive myself!”
Among these people, the merchants had all come here because of the benefits that Han Shuo promised them, apart from Fabian and Jack. If these people died, Han Shuo would only feel pity and immediately find a way to make it up for their guilds, lest their guilds lose their confidence in him.
But for Fabian and Jack, Han Shuo truly cared for them, especially Jack. Jack had been Han Shuo’s best friend since when he was still a nobody with nothing. If Jack died because of his carelessness, Han Shuo would never forgive himself. He’d might even blame himself to the point of breaking down in the short run.
Fabian looked at the young man who was over one meter ninety centimeters tall standing before him. He inwardly tried to overlap this person with that thin, weak figure that he’d met for the first time in the Dark Forest. Fabian discovered that he couldn’t do so no matter how hard he tried just based on the change in body size alone.
Time could change everything, so Fabian couldn’t help but feel emotional. The older he became, the more timid he grew. However, Han Shuo was the opposite. He’d developed from a youngster to a young man whom no one dared to underestimate.
Han Shuo’s power had become increasingly stronger as he slowly revealed himself to be a striking figure in the upper echelons of society. For His Majesty the King to allow Han Shuo to take up the mess that was Brettel City, it absolutely wasn’t a poor posting that those unaware were gossiping about. It was actually the tempering for an invincible sword. Fabian looked at the young man in front of him, the look in his eyes deepening as he was unable to understand the latter’s inner thoughts. A flash of inspiration suddenly struck him.
“This is the letter that young Miss Phoebe asked me to personally hand to you.” Fabian took out an envelope emitting a faint fragrance with a rose printed on it. He respectfully placed it in Han Shuo’s hand.
“Alright, old Fabian. You continue to rest. I still need to console the frightened merchants after they wake up! Many industries in Brettle City are awaiting investment. Cooperation with other major merchant guilds will certainly be more intimate from now on. Apart from the current, urgent shortage of weapons and equipment, I also need a steady stream of food and pharmaceuticals. I will be depending on you for all of this.” Han Shuo put away the fragrant letter before saying to Fabian with a smile.
“Hehe, with the relationship between you and young Miss Phoebe, the Boozt Merchant Guild will definitely give you our full support.” Fabian also understood the two’s relationship. He winked at Han Shuo and spoke humorously with a meaningful smile.
“Of course, I won’t treat the Boozt Merchant Guild badly either. Eh, your leader Phoebe included!” Han Shuo said smilingly, his face delighted as he left Fabian’s room. The open door closed slowly by a wave of force after he left.
“He is getting more and more powerful. Young Miss Phoebe is indeed a true businesswoman. She knew to invest in him before he even accomplished his great deeds. It seems the Boozt Merchant Guild will definitely bloom and usher in a new era of glory in the hands of young miss!” Fabian whispered thoughtfully to himself as he watched the door close automatically without wind.
“Phoebe, ah Phoebe, I’ve received your love!” In his room, Han Shuo murmured to himself with a cute smile after reading the fragrant letter.
Brettle City had been bathing in a happy, joyous atmosphere three days later. The center of the city lord’s mansion was filled with the sounds of chatter and laughter.
The Food Festival wasn’t considered a big festival in the Lancelot Empire. However, Han Shuo was placing great importance on this festival because the merchants had arrived safely. Moreover, he wanted to use them to send some messages.
Rows of tables, that were over ten meters long, were set up in front of the city lord’s mansion. Various fine snacks and deliciously aromatic, steaming hot meals came out in turns from the wide open gates of the city lord’s mansion. Any civilian in Brettel City was free to enjoy this food to their heart’s content.
The civilians coming because of the news took only ten seconds to get past their initial doubts, becoming deliriously happy instead. Knights in shining armor maintained order with a polite, refined manner and smiles on their faces.
Exquisite food had been arranged on a luxurious, round sandalwood table inside the city lord’s mansion. Dick had prepared for the merchants who’d escaped death. Fabian, on the other hand, seemed to become a co-host as he helped Han Shuo entertain the guests who came from distant areas. He placed gold coins directly in their hands for the war chariots and equipment that they’d transported.
The merchants’ grins grew even wider after they’d received their payment, ceaselessly showering praises upon Han Shuo, who was sporting a refined smile. They declared that this business was just the beginning of a great partnership, and that whatever Han Shuo needed would be delivered in an endless stream.
“Ladies and gentlemen, everyone…” Han Shuo picked up his glass of fine red wine, his voice resounding loudly throughout the entire audience. The profit seeking merchants were currently overjoyed as they received their payment. Everyone immediately stopped their noisy chattering and smiled as they looked up to see Han Shuo’s dashing figure, waiting for him to continue his speech.
When the hubbub had quieted down, Han Shuo said with a slight smile, “Ladies and gentlemen, this transaction is just the beginning. Brettel City needs a steady stream of goods and resources. The harvest from the mines of the surrounding mountains is also priceless. From now on you will definitely be able to obtain more wealth in this city.”
Pausing for a bit, Han Shuo’s smile disappeared as he raised his voice to speak gravely, “As a city that had been trampled on by bandits and foreign countries for too many years, Brettel City has been through too much hardship and pain. No other city has been through so much agony and humiliation like this city in the Lancelot Empire.”
“His Majesty bestowed upon me Brettel City. I accepted it with a heavy heart and the mission to bring back its prosperity. However, my power alone is limited, but I will create good conditions that are favorable for you, so that you can obtain what you need in Brettel City.”
The merchants weren’t stingy with applause that didn’t cost the anything. After the rain of applause, the not-too-luxurious banquet continued.
Little fatty Jack and Fabian walked over to Han Shuo. Jack looked up at the tall, imposing Han Shuo and said, “Bryan, I don’t want to stay at Ossen City anymore. It’s so boring. Let me stay in Brettel City, I can help you.”
Han Shuo was surprised. He subconsciously raised his glass to clink with Jack’s for a toast. After finishing the glass of fine wine, he spoke unhurriedly after some hesitation, “Jack, only the two of us know how deep our relationship goes. It’s not that I don’t want you to stay here, but this is a very dangerous place. You will be in constant, life threatening danger. As a friend, I advise you to remain at the Boozt Merchant Guild. That way, at least you will always be safe.”
Jack shook his head, the layers of fat on his face also shaking. He turned to look at the shocked Fabian by his side and said, “The Boozt Merchant Guild is too peaceful. I’m still too young. I’m very grateful to young Miss Phoebe and you for always taking care of me, but Jessica has said that the one she likes must be an experienced knight or a noble. I feel that no matter how much I try, young Miss Phoebe can’t make me a knight or a noble, but maybe you can, Bryan.”
Han Shuo was speechless. He hadn’t expected that because of a lady, the always timid, cowardly little fatty Jack could also grow to possess this dangerous item called “ambition”.