Three days passed quickly. Early in the morning of the 17th of the 8th, Auguslo sent a messenger to bring Lorist to his tent. Lorist took a simple bath and washed himself. After donning some fancy noble-military robes, left with Reidy and Jinolio and a thousand guards. Auguslo most likely wanted to impress the envoys with military might. Two rows of soldiers lined the road for five kilometers out of the camp. Their equipment shone like spit-shined cutlery. The people wearing the equipment, however, were less pruned. Lorist had no right to comment, however, feasting was a tradition and even a custom. The sludge called a road had been pressed and covered with sawdust and fine river sand. Lorist had no idea where on earth Auguslo got the supplies and materials necessary on such short notice. Or had he prepared it months earlier?
The white dragon curled through the landscape. According to Lorist's education on noble customs, this was the highest courtesy possible. Its use was only recorded seven times in all of history. The treaties signed in conjunction with its use were never less than 20 years long and often lasted much longer.
Haha, looks like Auguslo really wants to have peace... He's pressuring them with his one hand, and offering a path to peace with the other. If this were anyone else, they might be touched, but our opponents aren't nobles in anything other than name -- I don't think this means anything to them.
The entrance of the path of peace was guarded with soldiers who blocked the way with wooden barricades. Lorist brought his horse to a halt. A sergeant ran over and explained everything. Lorist nodded and took the detour. He couldn't complain since the path could only be used by the envoys. He knew that if he insisted on crossing the path with a thousand men, not only would everything be wasted, it might even make a haughty impression on the guests.
He arrived 20 minutes later. Lorist knew the main gates were off limits too, so he headed to the other entrance. As expected, there was a smaller gateway not far away with people traveling in and out constantly. He finally noticed how prettied-up the fence was when he got closer. Not only were the damaged parts filled up and repaired, even the uneven parts of the upper fence were trimmed to uniform level. Auguslo truly put lots of effort into this project. He had wanted to make sure the camp was in perfect condition before the envoys arrived.
As for the outside of the military camp, it was clean. Hygiene was the baseline and Lorist noted a red-feather-wearing patrolman pushed to the ground and given ten canes for spitting on the ground.
The only thing that didn't fit with the atmosphere was the colorful flags all over. Their sizes were not uniform, and they were almost everywhere, making Lorist feel like he was in a children's theme park. When he arrived, he realized the colored flags outside were simple decorations in comparison.
Other things aside, the wooden fences themselves were wrapped in multi-colored silk and covered in a myriad of tones, just like a bouquet. As for the insides of the central areas, the tents were all taken down, replaced by a majestic and grand palace at the center of it all.
Is that a palace?! thought Lorist his shock. He squinted for a closer look. A breeze blew, and he caught the roof of the 'palace' wave about slightly. Oh, so it's still a tent, it's just larger and drawn to look like it has a real roof.
A royal guard came over. He dismounted, and a servant took his horse away. He walked to the huge palace-tent with Jinolio and Reidy while the guards behind him went to their respective resting areas while they were being briefed on what they could and couldn't do to not disrupt the envoys' visit..
Upon entering the tent, Lorist saw that the internals were also decorated to make them look like those of a real palace. However, Lorist could tell that it was all looks. He was quite curious as to how Auguslo managed to convert the tent to look like a palace though.
Auguslo was at the center of the main hall with many other nobles. The main hall really did look like a palace's assembly hall, complete with steps covered in black and gold carpets. On the carpet was one gleaming seat which looked to be the throne.
Auguslo wasn't seated in his throne and was instead chatting idly with the other nobles beneath the elevated platform. As he was wearing a golden crown on his head, he stood out exceptionally from the other nobles who wore no hats.
All the nobles within the hall were clad in formal attire with their ceremonial swords. That was a tradition left behind from the time of the Krissen Empire. Formal wear accompanied with a ceremonial sword symbolized one's courage and remembrance for those that came before to build up the Krissen Empire. There was also an unofficial saying that claimed that the ceremonial swords were carried around back in the day when dueling was very commonplace. That way, the nobles could respond to duels at a moment's notice to settle their disagreements.
Seeing Lorist, Reidy and Jinolio entering the tent, Auguslo waved for them to come over to him. After the greetings, Lorist noted Auguslo's bloodshot eyes. He looked rather fatigued, so Lorist asked, "Your Majesty, did you not rest well the night before? You don't look too well."
"Is that so?" Auguslo rubbed his face and said with a smile, "The mere thought at the envoys of the Union coming to sign a peace treaty with us and the realization of my ambition of the empire would stir me from sleep. I haven't got any shuteye for the past two days. However, that wouldn't pose to be a problem. I have more than enough time to rest after today."
All things aside, Auguslo was still a rank 1 blademaster, so losing sleep over a couple of days wasn't something that could affect him much, apart from making him seem gloomier than usual.
Lorist advised, "Your Majesty, it's still rather early and the envoys of the Union might take another hour or two to come. Perhaps you might want to shut your eyes for a light nap during this time. That way, you'll look much better in an hour or two. At least, your eyes won't look that bloodshot."
Auguslo was convinced. "Alright, I'll heed your advice and take a short rest lest the envoys come see all the veins in my eyes and get a bad impression. Go about as you like here and ask the servants if you need anything else."
By the time Auguslo left, the nobles within the ten felt much more relaxed than before. Some found places to sit down at, some drank away as they chatted while others flirted with the maidservants beside them. However, they all knew that it was a momentous day and neither of them were willing to let Lorist see their debased states.
Kenmays and Shazin popped out of nowhere and made their way to Lorist's side. They shoved Lorist into a smaller partition of the tent where many small tables were laid out filled with food, juice and other beverages.
"What are you guys doing here? Where's Felim?" asked Lorist.
"Felim hasn't arrived yet. I brought you here for something to eat. You don't wanna be hungry when it starts," said Kenmays.
"How did you know they'd be food here?" asked Reidy. He hasn't eaten anything yet before following Lorist, so he began wolfing down a roasted goat thigh without hesitation the moment he saw that there was so much to eat.
"How did I know?" Kenmays said gleefully, "I laid this out, that's how. It's no problem for me to get the kitchen to cook something up for us."
"You're saying that you were in charge of this whole palace tent thing?" asked Lorist with surprise.
"Naturally. His Majesty had wanted to tear the main tent down to make a simple pavilion to receive the envoys, but he didn't have much time to do so. Seeing his trouble, I offered help as the representative of salt merchant committee and rebuilt it into something more appropriate with the help of some designers and artists to make it look like a palace. This is good business. I actually earned nearly 20 thousand gold Fordes doing this," replied Kenmays excitedly.
It could be seen from his expression that Auguslo was once more put onto a chopping board like a juicy sheep to be slaughtered. However, it was his own fault for liking grand spectacles. It's no wonder Kenmays didn't hold back at all when it came to pricing.
As they munched and drank within the small partition, Felim soon came to join them, followed by the thick-skinned Duke Fisablen as well. Duke Fisablen did complain to Kenmays for not having prepared any good wine, however.
An hour or so later as it was approaching noon, a loud horn could be heard from outside, startling all of them alert. The envoys from the Union finally came. Lorist and gang hurriedly straightened their robes and exited the partition.
Auguslo was also there. After a short nap, he seemed far more energetic and his eyes were no longer bloodshot. There was also a healthy glow to his face. He was listening to a scout's reporting on the arrival of the envoys.
The scout reported that the envoys brought a hundred guards with them and had already entered the path of peace in their luxurious carriage. It should take about 20 more minutes for them to reach the main tent.
Auguslo then excitedly called for the rest to wait for the envoys outside the tent.
Duke Fisablen stepped forward and said that it was inappropriate for Auguslo to make the reception, as he was the king of Andinaq himself, so he couldn't lower himself to do such a thing. The king should be sitting in his throne, waiting for the envoy to arrive, as is fitting for a king and so on.
Auguslo humbly accepted Duke Fisablen's criticism. He gave it some thought and made a compromise to receive them at the entrance of the central area. After all, he wanted to show his sincerity and desire for peace too.
So, the lot of them waited at the entrance for around half an hour before they finally saw the carriage before them. A thin and lanky middle-aged man got off from the carriage, followed by a white-bearded old man who carried a small wooden case in his hand.
The tall man was called Krilos, a count of the Union as well as the vice president of one of the big six guilds, Twinhead Dragon Merchant Guild. The old man beside him appeared to be his attendant who followed him everywhere.
Krilos's abilities were of the gold rank, but he mentioned that he was only training to keep fit and that he abhorred and feared jumping into a slaughterfest. He jokingly said that the ornate ceremonial sword he carried was only for show and that he hasn't even drawn it before. The old attendant on the other hand seemed to be a normal person who didn't train in battleforce and was in charge of tending to the count for his daily needs. Krilos joked that since he was born in a rich family, he was used to being spoiled and required the help of his servants for the easiest of tasks.
The hundred guards on the other hand caught everyone's attention. There were actually four blademasters and ten gold-ranked swordsmen among them, with the rest being all silver-ranked.,
Auguslo looked rather happy about that as the elite nature of the guard meant that Krilos was of high status. He wasn't the slightest bit worried about the guards causing any trouble. Other things aside, there were ten blademasters of the kingdom there. Even the four blademasters among the guards wouldn't dare to mess around.
Auguslo greeted Krilos really warmly and chatted to no end. The two of them even held hands like they got along exceptionally well with each other. In the end, Lorist could no longer stand watching that and he cleared his throat and reminded, "Your Majesty, shouldn't you talk after going into the tent first?"
"Ah, that's right," said Auguslo as he snapped out of it and invited Krilos into the tent. He then asked whether the envoy would like the blademasters and guards to follow him in as well.
Krilos laughed and said, "There's no need. Let the guards stay outside with the other guards. All I need with me is my old attendant over here. I'm here to sign a peace treaty, not to pick a fight. So, I'm quite confident in my safety here."
Auguslo was all the more gladdened by that and hurried the two into the tent with incredible hospitality.