Masked Knight – Chapter 75

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Unfriendly Banquet


Everyone in the Watt Fortress was rejoicing. The only ones who were frowning were Ferara and Fedol. The war in the Northwest had exposed their crimes of embezzlement. A few days ago, Reuenthal’s main army attempted to siege the Watt Fortress. In order to stabilize the morale of the army, Reuben did not treat them too harshly. However, the enemy had finally retreated and both Ferara and Fedol did not know whether they were supposed to be happy or unhappy.


Had Reuenthal broke into the city, all of them would be dead. They heard that the tyrant would not take prisoners. If that had happened, it would have been the end of their accumulated wealth.They would have also lost their wives and concubines to those grassland demons.


The problems in the city were solved and it would soon be time for accounts.


Fedol was an oaf while Ferara was the powerful one. Only when they received the reply that the duke would be joining them for dinner, did they start to feel a bit more at ease.


They were not worried about Reuben. Ever since the Northwest Legion had been defeated, they knew that Reuben’s days as the Regimental commander were numbered. The accounting issues would no longer be his concern. However, the newly appointed young Duke of the Tulip Family, made both of them feel disturbed. Ferara was a viscount and came from a family with a slightly notable background. Naturally, he would know about the young duke. He heard that the duke was a playboy in the Imperial Capital. He was a person who enjoyed good wine and beautiful women. That made him his kindred spirit. As kindred spirits, he would probably not punish them, right?


Ferara believed that since Rody was appointed by His Majesty as a special envoy, Rody would be the most influential person in the Northwest. If he could get Rody to be on his side, then he could accuse Reuben of the defeat in the Northwest. After that, when the people in the Empire pressed for answers, they would not be able to find any.


Besides, the emperor would not sit idly and ignore him. After all, he embezzled millions of gold coins every year, which was almost half of the Empire’s money. The only problem left was the young duke. He never expected him to be able to defeat Reuenthal. Initially, Ferara was worried that he was one of those with powerful roles. However, when he heard about Rody’s consent to join them for dinner, one of his worries disappeared. There was nothing strange about people from the Tulip Family winning battles. As long as Rody also liked the glamor, he would then be able to have a breakthrough.


The two of them discussed how to impress the duke. The duke would naturally have money and territory. From the rumors he had heard, the duke was a playboy. It looked like they would need to make use of women to win him over. Ferara told Fedol about his plans but Fedol looked reluctant. Ferara then looked at him angrily and Fedol immediately relented.


If they could not get out of the mess they were in, they would probably lose their lives. There would be no point in protecting this treasure. If the situation became irredeemable, the people in the Imperial Capital would definitely want a sacrifice. Ferara, who was a viscount with some connections would definitely not be sacrificed. So, if the time were to come, Fedol would likely be the one to be sacrificed.


At that moment, Fedol had to agree with the plan.


That night, the dinner celebration was held at a noble’s manor in Watt Fortress. When the Northwest region was occupied by the enemy, most of the nobles fled with their family’s wealth and belongings to Watt Fortress. Some of them managed to move on to the Empire’s hinterland while some who were slow, were besieged at the fortress. Now that the danger had passed, the dinner celebration would definitely include those with prestige.


Ferara had put a lot of thought into organizing the dinner. Although it was during the war when he fled, he did not care about the citizens in Trier Fortress. He only cared about his family’s wealth which required 10 carriages to cart. Most of the nobles did something similar. There were even some who took their chefs and entertainers along with them.


In the garden of the manor where melodious music was played, there were some well-dressed very important persons and some beautiful women with makeup. They all heard that the young duke was attending the dinner celebration and he was not married. It was definitely good news for them. The rich and powerful nobles in the Northwest would dress up their daughters like princesses. Nobles who did not have daughters would adopt their nieces as daughters and bring them along. As for those who did not have any daughters or nieces, they could only sigh.


For a time, the garden looked extremely beautiful. However, the nobles who were there chasing after beautiful girls were in a bad mood. It was the first time they had such a gathering since the war in the Northwest. The playboys who had been oppressed were waiting for that night to enjoy themselves. When they saw the lawn full of beautiful girls, they went up and tried to strike up a conversation. However, none of the girls paid them any attention as they stretched their necks and continued to look at the doorway. Even those girls who used to be their secret lovers ignored them. The girls looked like they wanted to give those guys a tight slap to send them flying out of the city gates.


Ferara and Fedol also stood at the front gate feeling uneasy. They each held a glass of wine and smiled at each other. Their success or failure would determine the night. They then looked at the woods. That was where they kept their secret weapon.


Suddenly, a loud voice shouted from a distance, “His Excellency the Duke has arrived!”


Everyone in the garden immediately became alarmed. All of them hurriedly lined up near the entrance to greet the duke. The girls quarreled with one another to obtain a more favorable position.


They soon heard the sound of leather boots and then, a group of soldiers wearing the Central Cavalry’s uniform walked into the garden. The soldiers were led by an officer with murderous eyes. He leisurely glanced at the crowd and ignored their surprised look. After that, he spoke in a low voice, “Line up!”


The soldiers immediately stood on both sides. A few rude soldiers roughly pushed away the girls and ignored their subtle cursing. After that, the sound of leather boots was heard once again as the duke slowly walked in.


Everyone was stunned. The duke was in his military uniform and he also brought along his massive sword. They did not know whether it was on purpose or not but the leather armor that the duke was wearing still had bloodstains.


Everyone else was wearing noble robes. How could he wear such an attire to the dinner? Ferara and Fedol could only brace themselves as they greeted him.


Rody only said a few words to oblige and followed them in. Behind him, his bodyguard and four other Wolves Fang soldiers followed closely. The surrounding nobles who were watching the duke were treated like a nuisance. Before they could even say a few words of praise, they were already pushed away by the soldiers. The soldiers pushed them all away regardless of their wealth, position or gender.


Feeling helpless, everyone could only speak from a distance. For a long moment, words of flattery like ‘Your Excellency is wise and brilliant’, ‘Your Excellency is the pillar of the Empire!’ and ‘Your Excellency is the role model of the army!’ were spoken in succession. They could finally utter those words of flattery they had practiced for half a day. However, their flattery was often mixed with a few cries of pain as they were driven away by the soldiers.


Everyone soon learned from experience and did not dare to approach Rody. For those who had wanted to put on a show to impress the duke, it seemed a little atrocious to shout from such a distance. It was also questionable if they should have shed any crocodile tears since they were so far away. Could the duke have seen their tears?


Ferara looked stiff as he guided Rody to a seat in the courtyard.


He had to admire the efforts put in for the artistry. Although materials were currently lacking in Watt Fortress, they were still able to set up an impressive banquet. They were unable to obtain good food but they had the ingenuity to set up a huge oven in the middle of the courtyard. On the oven, there was a skewer with an already roasted golden lamb.


Under the fire, the smell of the roasted mutton filled the air.


A few officers sliced some chunks of meat from the legs of the lamb and sent the meat over to them. Ferara immediately pushed it aside and said, “Your Excellency, this is the Great Moon Kingdom’s famous roasted mutton. It was cooked by the chefs from the Northwest. I believe Your Excellency has never had this in the capital…”


Rody nodded and took the silver dining cutlery offered to him by the waiter. After cutting the mutton a little, he showed an impatient expression and deliberately shouted, “Damn, this knife is not fast enough!” After that, he took out his sword which was one meter in length and cut the mutton into small pieces. He then smiled and stuck his gleaming sword into the table which was worth 20 gold coins.


Everyone present did not know how to react and just stared at the young duke. After a long time, a witty guy suddenly shouted, “Your Excellency’s behavior is refreshing! As expected of a general!” That sentence immediately reminded everyone that it was the time for flattery. Some of them regretted that they were too slow to act and allowed someone else to grab the opportunity.


Rody smiled and slowly lifted his glass of wine to propose a toast. After giving a meaningful wink, his bodyguards finally moved to the side.


The atmosphere finally became more harmonious as several nobles bravely walked up to him. Even the people from behind started to approach him when they realized that the soldiers were no longer blocking the way. After that, there was a short moment for greetings. Rody did not act too cold or too warm. However, he treated them politely. When someone proposed a toast with him, he did not refuse. He also did not speak about the war in the Northwest. Ferara sighed. As he was of noble birth and had been to the Imperial Capital before, he chatted with Rody about the scenery in the Imperial capital and about other nobles. After that, the topic shifted to the savageness and arrogance of Reuenthal. That was something all the nobles agreed with. They loudly praised the duke for his miraculous skill and his ability to defeat the devil, Reuenthal the moment he was dispatched. After that, they talked about the losses and destruction caused by Reuenthal. The other nobles were agitated and their eyes brimmed with tears. They felt grateful to Rody for saving them and cursed Reuenthal for the loss of their properties.


Rody smiled and comforted everyone, “To all of you who defended the Northwest for the Empire, the bigger the losses you suffered, the more loyal you are to the Empire.” Immediately, all of them became anxious and started to exaggerate their losses to show their loyalty to the Empire.


One of the nobles told the tale of how his family’s servant had fought bravely after the army was defeated. The servant stood steadfast against the strong enemy. At that time, Rody secretly scoffed and slowly said, “Very good! Very good!”  


After Rody said those words, everyone was boiling in excitement. They all started telling their stories about their bloody fights with the enemy, their defeat and how they ‘retreated’ to risk their lives at Watt Fortress. They claimed they had requested to fight the enemy but were prevented by Reuben’s orders. If they did not adhere to Reuben’s orders, they would be rushed out of Watt Fortress. They claimed to have risked their lives fighting as a service to their country.


Rody listened to them one by one but from time to time he would comment, “Very good.” He continued listening until all of them had finished telling him their stories. After that, his voice lowered as he said, “I understand that all of you are very loyal. I truly admire the fact that you all wholeheartedly served your country! Although the enemy has retreated, for now, you can still have your chance to express your loyalty! Today, I personally want to recruit an army to fight against Reuenthal! Since you all have the intention to fight, I will give all of you the opportunity. For the counterattack, why don’t you join the vanguard? For those seeking to fight in the battles, go and register your name at the garrison tomorrow. I will definitely allow you to fight the enemy.”


These words immediately made the audience silent. Rody looked at them coldly. “What’s wrong? Could it be that the loyalty you speak of is merely words?”


Ferara was sweating. He gave Fedol a meaningful glance and then said, “Your Excellency, this is a dinner celebration. Let us talk about killing the enemy another day. I believe that everyone here is loyal to the Empire. As long as Your Excellency gives the order, we will all be willing to risk our lives.”


Everyone agreed but their voices were less enthusiastic.


Rody did not say much more and changed the topic. He asked about the common customs in the Northwest and the atmosphere slowly recovered.


At that moment, Fedol went in front of Rody with a bright smile and whispered to him, “Your Excellency, the woods behind this courtyard has quite a nice view. It has maple trees that are rare in the Northwest. Your Excellency may want to go and admire it.”


“Oh?” Rody frowned. He then followed Fedol into the woods.


The moment he walked into the edge of the woods, a silhouette suddenly appeared and bumped into him. Rody smelled something fragrant. He spontaneously stretched out his hands and felt something soft. He then heard a gentle voice. “Oh.”


From the voice, it was evident that the person felt a bit of pain from the collision. He looked again and saw a young woman in his arms. She looked at Rody and her slender arms were around Rody’s neck. She was breathing faintly and looked both shy and scared.


“Your Excellency, it was an accident. Your Excellency… I…” After she spoke, she nibbled her lip and her expression showed that she was terrified. However, her eyes were a bit seductive.


“Who are you?” Rody immediately let her go.


“Your Excellency, I am… aya…” The woman was just about to stand up when her legs suddenly weakened and she fell down into Rody’s arms. Rody’s face turned red. “What happened?”


“My legs… I think I sprained my legs.” The woman gently leaned against Rody’s chest. She sounded sweet and charming.


Rody frowned. Then, he turned around and gave his bodyguard a meaningful glance. “This lady seems to have sprained her legs. Help her back.”


As instructed, two of the sturdy bodyguards walked up and took her from Rody’s arm without showing any tenderness. One held her by the left arm, while the other by the right and they took her away despite her screaming.


“What else have you all prepared?” Rody coldly asked Ferara and Fedol. At that moment, both of them were sweating profusely and their faces were pale.


Rody suddenly smiled and said, “I will have to politely refuse your kindness. Do you know why I am not happy?”


“Hmph!” Rody did not wait for them to answer before he continued, “Currently, there is a war going on. What kind of impression will this give? If I take the lead in having a life of pleasure, how am I supposed to lead the army? How am I supposed to fight? I understand your good intentions but you must remember to choose the right time and occasion. Do not make this so obvious and let so many people see. Understand?”


Ferara immediately felt relief. Before that he was so frightened, it felt like his soul was leaving his body. He quickly wiped his sweat and said, “Yes, yes, yes! I was too hasty! Your Excellency, please pardon us!”


Rody smiled and said, “I came to you tonight for other matters!”


“Your Excellency, feel free to instruct us!” Seeing that things turned out for the better, Ferara immediately nodded.


“Good.” Rody pretended to think to himself for a moment and then he continued, “Let us find a place to talk.”


While the whole city in Watt Fortress celebrated their victory, Reuenthal who had retreated back to Redwood Base, chopped up six of his scout captains into several pieces.


Reuenthal was feeling distressed. He had just lost 40,000 infantries in the attempted siege. To him, the infantry was more important than the cavalry. This was because the grasslands would never have a shortage of cavalries. He just needed to give the order and he would easily gather hundreds of thousands of strong cavalrymen. All of them grew up on horseback and used swords. As a result, they had an innate talent to be good cavalrymen. However, they had a fatal weakness. The warriors of the grasslands were unable to fight without their horses.


Reuenthal had spent a whole year with the aid of a secret envoy from the Roland mainlands to train tens of thousands of infantrymen. With that, he was almost certain of victory. Unfortunately, an enemy cavalry had appeared out of nowhere. Later, he was told that the cavalry was the Empire’s most elite cavalry. What was even more shocking was the commander of the cavalry. It was the Tulip Family’s duke.


There was nobody on the continent who did not know the Tulip Family. It was the Tulip Family, with the support of the ‘Lightning God’s Whip’ who had conquered their nation many years ago. To the foreigners of the grasslands, the Tulip Family was their humiliation and their nightmare.


In the battle, Reuenthal lost 40,000 soldiers. Among them, he lost 20,000 soldiers to the siege. However, it was the Empire’s Tulip Family who caused his defeat. When the enemy attacked from the rear and pushed all the way to the front, he had lost another 10,000 soldiers. The ones who got killed by the ‘Lightning God’s Whip’ were only a few thousand. The remaining soldiers were trampled to death by the horses. How could Reuenthal not feel upset?


The more annoying thing was the special envoy from the Roland mainland. The moment the envoy saw the retreat, he left without a word. The 10,000 cavalrymen he brought with him also quietly disappeared. They seemed unconcerned by the defeat.


However, Reuenthal did not dare to turn against them. He was aware of the secret envoy’s real strength. If he were to suddenly attack this envoy, there was a high chance that he would die instead. Although the special envoy had never fought with anyone since he arrived, he often inadvertently gave Reuenthal a fearful feeling. It reminded him of his childhood encounter with the wolf in the grassland.


Reuenthal had fought with the Empire for a very long time and seen a lot of warriors whom the Empire called high-ranking warriors. However, none of them were able to make Reuenthal that vigilant.


When they retreated back to Redwood Base, Reuenthal was feeling furious. The secret envoy from the Roland continent, who was once upon a time his comrade just gave him a cold and indifferent glance.


It was an expression of absolute contempt, full of ridicule and disdain. His eyes were like those of a lion baring its fangs at an ant.


In the middle of the night, a hand had just put down a pen in one of the barracks at Redwood Base. The owner of the hand rolled up a note and opened the window to grab an eagle. He then gently slipped the paper into a small metal ring which was already tied to the eagle’s legs and gently released it. The eagle flapped its wings and flew away.


“The Tulip Family’s banner has reappeared… Things are becoming complicated…” The person gently sighed. His face was covered by a veil but his eyes had a meaningful gaze.
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