The Westwood Capital City
A few days later, the newly-appointed Regiment Commander of the Northwest Legion, Elliott, arrived with 1,000 cavalrymen. Rody handed over the military affairs to him. Then Rody led the Central Cavalry, along with Gordon and the Imperial Guards, back to the Imperial Capital.
Regiment Commander Elliott was an old and wise person. According to Sieg, when Elliot was a Deputy Commander of the Central Cavalry, he was not corrupted. However, he was not outstanding. He did not offend anyone or made dealings with anyone. He was not greedy for money, had no desire for women and did not like having power.
Rody sighed. The Northwest Region needed a person who was resolute and vigorous in executing policies. This was to ensure that all of the corruption could be rooted out. Elliot did not seem to be such a person.
However, Elliot was said to be very familiar with military affairs. Currently, the Emperor did not want to fight in a war. Reuenthal was also not able to fight in a war as the two princes of Great Moon Kingdom were having an internal strife for power and authority. Elliot came to defend the Northwest region of the Empire, and there would not be any problems as long as Elliot did not make mistakes.
The only thing that annoyed Rody was that Jojo would be following him back to the Imperial Capital. Jojo had ignored him a few days ago in Watt Fortress. However, on the way back, Jojo had returned to her usual self and began to approach Rody again.
The situation when they returned to the Imperial Capital was different. Regiment Commander Elliott had mentioned that the Empire and Great Moon Kingdom had already dispatched an envoy to meet each other for peace negotiations. Both parties had also held back their armies. Besides, the Great Moon Kingdom had sent one of their Princes to Empire’s capital as a show of sincerity. Due to this, everybody was more relaxed on the journey back compared to the last time when the army had to rapidly march day and night.
Jojo had dispatched her bodyguards twice to invite Rody to board her carriage. With a flushed face, the terrified Rody told his bodyguards to refuse Jojo’s invitation. He gave the excuse that a high-ranking military officer should not leave without permission when the army was marching.
Jojo was filled with hate but she was miserably in love with Seth. When the threatening black robed woman left, her heart was at peace. Jojo believed that it would not be difficult to recapture her lover’s heart with her status and beauty. After half a day went by, Jojo was unable to hold back any longer. She told her bodyguard to bring her a horse, and then she left the carriage. She rushed to Rody’s side and rode beside him.
In the military, a person without fixed duties was not allowed to approach high-ranking military officers so easily. But Miss Jojo’s status made her different compared to others. She was Her Highness the Empress’s sister and was a special envoy sent by Emperor. She also seemed to have an undetermined relationship with the duke. Which idiot was brave enough to stop her? Even Gordon immediately kept his distance, and Sieg also gave an excuse to escape to another side.
Fortunately, they were surrounded by people during the march and Jojo did not dare mention any private matters. She simply just asked what happened in the Northwest region. Rody was helpless and could only cope by responding with a few sentences. When he talked about the more thrilling moments, Jojo was afraid. She turned deathly pale as she comforted herself by patting her chest repeatedly. She then gazed at Rody gently. When she thought of her lover who went through a life and death situation in the Northwest region, she was distressed, but she also felt happy.
Soon, it was noon and Jojo started to sweat. Rody could not bear to see the sweet and lovely Jojo exposed under the sunlight as she followed them. Rody then gently advised her return to the carriage. Jojo felt happy when she saw Rody finally caring for her and obediently returned to the carriage.
Previously, when Rody went on the expedition, he and the army had marched rapidly and used narrow paths. As a result, they had arrived at Watt Fortress within three days. This time, they only covered half the distance after traveling for five days.
They gradually entered deeper into the Empire’s territory and further away from the war zone in the Northwest region. The surrounding villages and towns were peaceful and serene. It did not have the vast, chaotic and ruined scenery in the Northwest region. Rody sighed and thought to himself.
If Watt fortress did not block Reuenthal’s army in the Northwest, could these people enjoy peace?
On the sixth day of the journey, they arrived at Westwood province. After another five days, they would be out of the Westwood province and arrive at the Imperial Capital. They had a safe and pleasant journey. Everyone was feeling relaxed. During the war in the Northwest region, the Central Cavalry had accomplished their mission remarkably. It was considered as a victorious battle and everyone would be granted a reward when they returned to the Imperial Capital. As a result, everyone was at ease.
However, only Rody did not look calm, and he was unhappy. Along the way, he had never turned around to look north. However, he constantly thought of the black robed woman. He knew that the further north he traveled, the further away he would be from the south.
They arrived in the capital city of the Westwood province, West Hill City, that evening. Rody commanded the army to station and rest outside the city. The local officers of West Hill City had requested to visit Rody, but Rody ordered his subordinates to refuse.
During the journey, they had passed by a few cities and towns. Most of the local officers knew that the Empire’s Duke of Tulip was returning triumphantly so, they were trying to curry favor. They constantly had banquets, and even the local aristocrats were sticking around like flies. Rody had tried to cope with it for two days, but after that, he could not stand it anymore. However, they were not stingy with the food and drinks. The military officers distributed them to the rest of the army.
The soldiers were all happy. They felt that if they followed the duke, they would be able to win battles and have an unlimited amount of meat and wine. They wished to return to the Empire’s capital as soon as possible so that the duke could be promoted as the Commander-in-chief of the Central Cavalry.
The soldiers had driven away the local officers. Rody had just sat down when Jojo came to him and earnestly asked him to visit the city with her. Although they had passed by a few cities and towns, the West Hill City was the largest city in the Westwood province. It was also the largest city in the northern area of the Empire.
Rody was very annoyed by Jojo. He ordered a few bodyguards to put on civilian clothing, and he walked out of the military camp with Jojo.
The West Hill City was definitely the largest city of the North. Even though there was a war in the Northwest region, the city was still peaceful. The city streets were bustling with a lot of merchants from the North and the South. Even in the evening, the businesses were still booming, and there were a lot of pedestrians on the streets. It looked peaceful, with the exception of a group of public security soldiers who walked around the city. They were heavily armed which caused some nervous tension.
Rody walked together with Jojo. Jojo happily looked around the city excitedly, but Rody was not interested at all. Finally, Rody took Jojo to a restaurant by the roadside to rest.
After ordering the food, Rody relaxed, only to hear the guests around him talk about the war in the Northwest region. There were numerous victorious battle stories: The Duke of the Tulip Family took to the field and gave Reuenthal a crushing defeat. The Great Moon Kingdom had suffered heavy losses and Reuenthal was terrified.
Some people even said that the duke’s army had assumed battle formation and fought against Reuenthal for one day and one night. They said that the duke utilized the Tulip Family’s unique skill, “The Nine Heaven Ten Buddha Head Shaking Dreadful Golden Lightning Slash” in the end. The duke had allegedly severed the head of Reuenthal’s horse with his sword. After Reuenthal fell off his horse, he kowtowed and admitted his defeat. After that, he took his army of 100,000 barbarians back to the grasslands.
Rody almost spat when he heard the rumors. He felt that the rumors were ridiculously funny. Rody did not consider the war at the Northwest region to be a victory. On top of that, Reuenthal was absolutely not defeated. This happened because Rody had successfully raided Reuenthal’s army and disturbed the opponent’s inner territories. This had disrupted Reuenthal’s plans and forced him to withdraw to fight in his homeland.
Based on Reuenthal’s ability, he would absolutely renew his power and authority. As long as he crushed the opposition in the inner region, he would become king in the future and resume his attack. A big war would be inevitable.
Jojo did not really care about the rumors, but she was very happy when she heard people complimenting her lover. However, she also felt some of the statements were ridiculous and interesting. For example, one said that he was very tall and could cut through a mountain with his sword. His fierce roar could make tens of thousands of enemies retreat in fear. Jojo couldn’t help but laugh when the rumors became more and more outrageous.
Jojo had laughed a little too loudly and sounded like she was making fun of the duke. The people who were chatting immediately heard her laughter and turned their heads to glare at her. With one look, they saw a sweet and charming girl smiling as she looked at them. Next to her was a handsome and heroic young man who was creasing his brows. After seeing the two of them, they no longer expressed their anger. The girl was also surrounded by a few strong men who seemed to be protecting her. As a result, the people were afraid to walk up to her and strike a conversation.
One of them coughed gently and could not fight the urge to say, “Little Miss, looking at your appearance, you must be someone with status. We were talking about the heroic exploits of the respectable Duke of the Tulip Family. What are you laughing at?”
Jojo looked sideways and replied, “Nothing. I just heard all of you exaggerating and wondered if the Duke of the Tulip Family is really that incredible? I do not think so!”
After listening to what Jojo had said, the person’s expression turned sour. Even if she was a beautiful woman, he did not care and loudly said, “His Excellency is the God of the Empire’s Army! Naturally, he is like a god! You are just a child, what do you know!”
A few people beside him also became angry and resentful. Others looked lustfully at Jojo while the older ones all glared at her.
Jojo could care less about them. She smiled and replied, “You all always say that he is extremely powerful, but have you all actually seen him in person?”
The person who told the tale of the duke’s battle with Reuenthal turned red immediately and mumbled, “Although I have not seen him in person, everybody has been saying the same thing. It is most likely true.”
“Hmph, rumors are not necessarily true. From what I see, the Duke of Tulip Family is not as incredible as you say! Hehe, he is probably a flirty and flippant person!” Jojo said as she looked at Rody.
She must be an important person! She has the guts to criticize the Empire’s patron saint. If you weren’t a noble we would have already taught you a lesson.
Another person said, “Little girl, you are not being sensible! Without the duke to guard us against the attack from the Northwest, how could we even enjoy such peaceful days?”
There were also other people with bad intentions who shouted, “Catch the little girl and make her admit her mistake!”
Seeing that a few guests had finished their drinks and were walking towards Jojo as they rolled up their sleeves, Rody frowned and said to Jojo, “Don’t say anymore.” He then pulled Jojo and walked out of the restaurant. The drunkards tried to stop them but could not possibly stop Rody’s Wolf Fang.
When they reached the street, Jojo asked, ”Seth, are you angry that I said you were flirty and flippant?”
Rody shook his head, feeling helpless and said no.
Jojo sighed, “I preferred it when you were a flirty and flippant person. Not like now. You are so silent and strict! You are starting to look more like your father.”
Rody gave a wry smile but did not have a good reply. He walked forward but since they were holding hands when Rody brought Jojo out of the restaurant, Jojo was unwilling to let go.
The royal bodyguards behind them smiled oddly as they felt that the duke was powerful on the battlefield, but he became helpless when dealing with Miss Jojo.
After a few steps, they arrived in front of a public square. Even though it was night, there were lights shining brightly above the public square. The square was very crowded and seemed to be lively.
Jojo was curious and pulled Rody towards the public square.
They saw a small platform built at the edge of the square. On the platform was a man wearing a brocade robe. The man was shouting. There were also two muscular and shirtless men behind him. Both of them looked fierce and each held a whip.
Rody’s ferocious Wolf Fang bodyguards pushed the crowds aside so that Rody and Jojo could stand nearer to the stage.
The people around them were dissatisfied with Rody and Jojo’s behavior but when they saw his aggressive bodyguards, they dared not speak or complain.
The robed man on the stage realized that enough crowd had gathered. He immediately turned his head and nodded towards the two muscular men. The two men walked to the back of the stage and drew back the big piece of curtain. The curtain gradually parted and revealed about seven to eight young children of both genders. They looked depressed and afraid.
Rody sighed and realized that they were trafficking child slaves.
Slavery had always existed in the Radiant Empire. It had existed since the era of Abbas the Great. He went on an expedition in all directions and defeated all of his enemies. After the war, there would always be prisoners. He felt that killing them would be a waste but he could not set them free. Thus, they were turned into slaves. Although Dandong had proposed the abolition of slavery, this system had brought many benefits to the Empire. As such, Abbas rejected Dandong’s request.
It had been 200 years since then, but there were still wars occurring at the borders of the Empire from time to time. The Great Moon Kingdom was located in the West, the Roland Continent was located in the North, and there were also some tribal groups in the South. Besides, selling the slaves actually helped increase the Empire’s revenue. Thus, the previous emperors had never abolished this cruel and inhumane system.
Rody hated to see it, but it was not something he could control. He frowned and pulled Jojo away. However, that was the first time Jojo saw the trafficking of slaves. She had never left the Imperial Capital. Even though there were also slave traders in the Imperial Capital and slaves in her own home, she was a noble and had never seen an actual scene of slave trafficking.
She saw a few pitiful-looking young children. Jojo felt great sympathy for them and was unwilling to leave.