Chapter 70

The sun’s rays were bouncing off his shiny armor and reflecting onto his eyes, causing Norian to squint. This place was the only passage that connected the vast south with the northern regions. Up to now, Count Essen had never sent any transportation convoys carrying anything of value.

However, it was different this time around. Though he was muttering something in disgust, he could sense something different in the air this time. As Cecil the Bard would later recount in his tales…

‘His greed and fate were catching up to him.’

Marquis Norian looked over his armor and weapon once more. He had put on his full war gear. He wore Alchin leather armor, carried a sword made from Alchin’s bones, wore a gauntlet specially made for defensive purposes on one hand, and wore another gauntlet specially made for hand-to-hand combat on the other hand.

Having accelerated his body, he clearly saw the convoy slowly making its way to his gates.

His military was already in battle formation. One of the gate doors was closed and another open. Along the sides of the open door were soldiers who were lined up and awaiting the convoy.

To confront this convoy, they prepared arrows and catapults to attack from range. For any outside observer, their large-scale formation was as if they were preparing to take over another territory’s land. 

“Hmm…” the Marquis sighed. He started asking Natin, who was beside him, in anger and frustration.

“Why is that woman there? And that person?”

“I-I don’t know, sir. I didn’t see them yesterday.”

Natin looked forward with narrowed eyes. He saw the convoy turn the mountainous terrain corner and slowly come closer, about a thirty-minute distance away. For anyone else, the convoy would look like a dark spot in the distance. However, with his powerful eyes, the Marquis was able to make out two individuals. His face broke out into a deep frown.

“The Goddess of Diana’s chief priestess, Dite, is present… but why is Sedum of the ‘Sword’s Eye’, an assassination and covert operation specialist, traveling with them as well?

***

“Therefore… take note. You are the representatives of this convoy. Make sure you carry yourself to the highest of standards!” San spoke before grabbing Yekin’s hands.

“I understand.”

Yekin bowed deeply before turning around. His sister Yeria and Captain Biyeon followed closely behind with Dite a bit further back. The convoy had stopped their carriages about 500 meters before the gates and had their representatives walk forward.

“What are they doing?” Marquis Norian said in an annoyed voice. His first son, Nodem, was next to him. Nodem turned to look at his father and prepared to respond.

Nodem followed the footsteps of his father. His martial arts skills were nearly at Natin’s level. Being fairly intelligent, he worked as his father’s Chief of Staff. He was much more vicious and sadistic than his father…

“It looks like an advance team.”

“Advance team?”

“It seems they want to negotiate. One guy and three women. This…Chief Priestess Dite is among them as well.”

“They’re really coming to seek compensation?”

“Let’s wait and see. It looks interesting. Anyways… those two girls look pretty hot, no? Can I be the one to go out and meet them?”

“Do as you wish. Take Togen and Jerome with you…”

Yekin stood rigidly in front of the castle gate door. Aggressive and violent auras were suppressing him from all four corners. Everything that shone in the sunlight was arrowheads and spear tips. Unfortunately, all of these shiny points were aimed at him. Furthermore, the ones approaching him from the front had menacing auras.

It was an understatement to say that the approaching men were much stronger than he was. Along with their overpowering auras was a sense of killing intent, which was so strong that it made Yekin want to puke.

“This is Marquis Norian’s castle. State your names and affiliations, commoners,” Nodem shouted out. His voice also had a twinge of derision, as if he was looking down at scum.

“Th-tha-t…”

Yekin’s throat was closed shut, not allowing him to speak properly. Nodem smiled.

Yekin turned his head and looked at Yeria and Biyeon. Biyeon had no expression. He firmed his expression and faced forward. Clearing his throat, he tried replying once more. Though his voice came out shaky, it was relatively firm.

“I hope that the god of travel, ‘Saturn’, will be with you! We are people from the Count of Essen’s estate. I am the Count’s second son, Yekin. We hope to cross your territory and continue our travels. Please give us permission to pass through…”

“Hey, who’s this? It’s the kid from Essen’s place. I’m Nodem, The Marquis of Norian’s first son. Who are the ladies next to you? There’s no issue with passing our lands. Did you bring the passage fee?” Nodem asked while smiling broadly. After figuring out the man’s identity, he was fixated on the two women behind Yekin. He started looking up and down their bodies.

His smile became more pronounced. His wandering eyes finally settled on a woman with an official uniform.

“It’s been a while, Chief Priestess Dite. You may pass first. There are some negotiations that us mere humans must conduct.”

“I’ll wait. I will travel with them,” Dite answered with a smile.

“No way… are you a party with these travelers? I recall that the gods are not supposed to impose themselves on human contracts and dealings. It’s been a tradition as old as time and promised by the gods themselves. If you do not wish to use force then we don’t plan to either…”

“I have no thoughts on intruding in your dealings. As you said, negotiations will remain amongst you humans. However, I will stand testament to whatever contract is signed.”

“Testament?”

“They have requested it. I am contracted by them to stand testament to their dealings and contracts. I can’t do anything about this either.”

“What does that mean?”

“I need to work to survive as well. For the record, these people really know how to cook.”

Dite brought her hand to her mouth and smiled. Nodem nodded his head, not knowing how else to respond. He brought his attention back to Yekin.

“Our passage fee is a little expensive. Do you know this? Child?”

“We want to negotiate,” Yekin answered firmly.

“Negotiate? Is there something to negotiate? We request a fee and you pay it. What else do we need besides that?”

“Nodem, are you responsible for this estate’s decisions?” Yekin asked.

“No, but…” Nodem hesitatingly said. Before he could continue, Yekin continued speaking,

“I request an audience with the Marquis.”

“The Marquis? You, are you even qualified…?”

This time, another person’s voice cut Nodem off.

“Hey! You sure talk a lot… our chief representative wants to meet your chief representative. Why doesn’t he qualify?”

Nodem turned his head to the speaker. It was a woman who wore some weird clothes. He gave her a greasy smile and cocked his head to one side. At the same time, Togen and Jerome shot a line of ‘chain’ at her. It was as if they had practiced the timing many times.

“?”

Nodem felt his neck snap backward. He started blinking wildly, not knowing what was going on. He could see the clear blue sky. Questions started arising within his head as his body was completely tilted backward.

Keuk-

He was finally able to release a breath. Something was pinned against his neck, causing him to lift his head farther and farther up. A leather strap encrusted with shards of glass and rough stones was biting into his neck’s flesh. Something was hitting against his belly. Nodem felt that he knew what it was.

“A wrist…?”

He couldn’t scream after getting the wind knocked out of him. His neck was fully secured by the strap. He was being led away like a dog. 

Thus… the convoy didn’t have to face the many arrows and catapults that were pointed their way.

***

“Okay, fearless friends. I heard you wanted to see me?”

The Marquis asked with slanting eyes. They were currently at the Marquis’ reception hall.

One could see that the Marquis was tempering his flaring anger. However, through his eyes, one could see his anger seeping out. Standing in front of the Marquis was Yekin, Yeria, Biyeon, and Dite. 

Alongside one of the women was Nodem. He was drooling on himself and clenching his jaw while being leashed like a dog. He still had both of his hands up near his neck…

“We’d like to discuss the passage fee… and about our compensation.”

Yekin said while rubbing off the nosebleed he was having.

“Negotiating on the passage fee I understand… but what is this about compensation? Child?” asked the Marquis while he slowly followed the lines of his sword’s blade. His aura was increasing and spreading out further.

 He was already past being angered about his son’s state of being dragged around like a dog. The situation had already progressed too far. He’d firmly step on them. However, he wouldn’t kill them. No, he’d let them live a life not worth living.

Looking at the young people requesting something absurd in front of him, the Marquis started getting angrier. They called themselves representatives and didn’t even bow down to him.

He felt that their naivete in stating their case and talking to him as an equal were somewhat cute. However, knowing that it was him who they were talking to, his anger rose. He thought that his rising anger was a good sign. It would make his stress relief much sweeter and more worthwhile once he trampled on these people.

“A part of Marquis’s forces left your territories and attacked our camped convoy. This act… was a clear show of unfriendly and illegal use of force. We require the Marquis… to compensate us for this ruthless action… and to apologize for this unwelcoming reception. We require compensation for not only… your action but also our material losses.”

As soon as he finished speaking, Yekin fell on his side. Biyeon helped Yekin back up and supported him. She took out a handkerchief and started cleaning the blood coming out from his nose and wiping the sweat off his brow.

“You all are very entertaining. To speak of compensation in front of me. What will you do if I say no? Are you going to kill my son? I don’t care much for him anyway, so do as you wish!”

The Marquis smiled before continuing,

“You were attacked outside my territories…? Do you have any proof? Wait, no… no… it doesn’t matter. Whether you can prove it or not, I’ll kill you all anyway. Your father, Count Essen, and his entire family will also become slaves. I’ll make it so they can no longer live or die.”

Marquis Norian growled his words and looked towards Yekin and Yeria. He had already taken out and raised his sword. The aura emanating out of him was already too much for the siblings to handle.

“Even if we have evidence… the Marquis won’t look at it… Keuk…”

This time, Yeria spoke out. A large amount of blood splashed out from her throat and nose.

“However, we… have an eyewitness,” Yekin said with a pale face as she was also supported by Biyeon. He then looked over at Biyeon and Dite. Dite took a step forward. Her expression was slightly hardened.

“I will state my eyewitness testimony. Your follower, Natin, brought eighty-two of his men and attacked this convoy last night. He stated that he was sent under your orders. I, Dite, Chief Priestess of the Goddess of Hunting, attest to this fact. Do not forget that this apostle only tells the truth! Count Essen’s commissioned convoy’s request for compensation is valid.”

Dite looked at the Marquis with a serious expression. Anyone who looked at her would know that this normally emotionless priestess was telling the truth from her serious face.

“What… you!”

Norian frowned.

As long as she attested, he would be hard-pressed to deny his involvement. It was a fact that dealing with the temple’s authority and power was tricky and difficult. 30% of his territory’s income came from hunting-related activities, so creating a bad relationship with the Goddess of Hunting would impact his estate’s finances. Moreover, having a bad relationship with one god would definitely carry over to the other gods, causing a domino effect that would negatively impact his purse.

Of course, he could just do as he pleased. However, he would take a large financial hit. He recalled the expansive power of the God of War, Kamize. Going against the gods went beyond simple revenge. If he went against the gods, he would become penniless in the end.

“Then… what do you want?” growled the Marquis.

His anger was transferred to his rapidly expanding and oppressive aura. Even his son, Nodem, was turning pale white in the face. Yekin and Yeria were almost to the point of fainting from the pain. But…

“This is so tiring. Why is the air here so bad?”

A clear voice rang out within the reception room. Immediately, the oppressive and violent aura instantly dispersed. The Marquis’s expression changed.

‘What the…’

The tables were turned. The Marquis, who was seated, started breathing roughly. The deadly aura that he projected outward had instantly disappeared, causing him to lose energy and focus. Moreover, a foreign aura had quickly entered his body, causing a great amount of internal havoc and stress. He quickly regained his body’s balance. He tried to sense the origin of the foreign aura.

“Awakened Warrior…? Chief Priestess Dite, was this you…?”

Dite shook her head. The Marquis moved his head towards the woman next to Dite.

“Oh my… it seems like our representatives have suffered some injuries. You’re such a disgraceful person! You… as a representative yourself, how can you do such a thing to another organization’s representative…?” Biyeon complained aloud.

The Marquis was at a loss for words as he looked at Biyeon. She turned her head to face him directly and narrowed her eyes. Unconsciously, he felt his body shiver. Biyeon took her eyes off the Marquis and spoke to Yekin and Yeria. In this place where everyone was holding their breath, her words rang out clearly with perfect diction, “You did well. Even though you were surrounded by such an oppressive aura, you didn’t fall down and kneel on your knees. You’ve kept up the dignity of a representative and fulfilled your responsibility. However, I’m disappointed with the actions of the representative on the other side. So vulgar and disgusting…” 

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