Chapter 36: The Recruitment of Trike (1)

His Strength alone was 79. This was pleasantly beyond what Milton had expected from an archer.

Milton’s own Strength as an Expert was 72. This meant that based purely on the Strength stat, Trike was higher than an Expert swordsman.

‘How is this possible?’

Milton was flabbergasted.

The power exuding from this man seemed nowhere near that level. If they were to duel with swords, Milton would unmistakably win.

However, Milton realized why his Strength was so high upon observing his Special Traits.

Farsighted, Snipe, Rapid Fire.

All three of the Special Traits he possessed were related to archery.

In other words, instead of pruning his aura to reach the Expert stage in swordsmanship, he had invested his efforts into polishing his archery to reach new heights.

This ‘Monarch’s Authority’ system assessed that his archery skills were equivalent to 79 Strength. Trike had solely amassed his archery skills to the point where it was deemed to surpass Expert-grade Strength.

It was clear that he possessed both the extraordinary talent and the dedication in chiseling himself necessary to reach this level.

‘All that considered, it makes sense now. Besides, I’ve already seen a similar occasion once before.’

Milton was thinking of his Administrator Max. 

Max’s Intelligence was 77. 

High as it was, he could not be brought to the battlefield as an advisor because the majority of his knowledge and experience was related to internal state affairs. Therefore despite his high Intelligence, he could not be brought to a war without any direction and be told to think up a strategy.

‘No matter how great this ‘Authority’ power is, that doesn’t make the world a video game. This world clearly consists of living, breathing humans, and each has their own individuality…’

Milton now had a wider understanding of his powers.

Watching Milton, Trike bluntly asked him.

“Whatcha doin’?”

He was not surprised that Milton would appear at his cell like this.

‘Looks like they lost as expected. Though they lost quicker than I thought they would.’

 Having anticipated the outcome of this war already, Trike had also projected that Milton would come to him after emerging the victor.

What he did not expect was what would follow.

Milton had exclaimed something after seeing him, after which he seemed to be quietly pondering something before nodding his head and making an expression saying, ‘I see.’ – all while Trike stayed put.

So what did Trike think?

‘I’m f**ked. He’s not a complete nutjob, is he?’

It was a perfectly reasonable concern.

Trike became exceedingly worried as he realized this lunatic would be deciding his fate. Unable to keep silent, he eventually opened his mouth first.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Scoundrel! How dare you speak to our lord in that manner?!”

The one who answered Trike’s question was not Milton, but his escort knight behind him, Jerome. An ordinary person would be overwhelmed by Jerome’s vigor and become disheartened, but…

“Hang on, what’s the big deal with saying something when I’m just being eyeballed without a word?!”

Trike was also a man of fiery temperament.

At Trike’s repeated demands, Jerome glared at Trike and warned him.

“Mind your manners. Do you know who is the one before you?”

“Who? Why, he’s the one that got hit by my arrow and fell off his horse of course.”

“You dare…”

It seemed that Jerome was ready to jump in the cell immediately and beat the living daylights out of Trike.

But Milton raised his hand and held Jerome back.

“It is fine, Jerome. He’s technically not wrong, would you not agree?”

“But my lord…”

“If I say it is fine, then it is fine.”

As soon as Milton said that, Jerome stepped back for the time being.

Milton smiled at Trike and spoke to him.

“I must apologize for staring at you so stiffly. Tis’ my first time seeing the man who landed an arrow on my face, so this is all rather intriguing.”

“……”

Trike looked at Milton with a hint of surprise.

All the nobles that Trike had encountered until now had been arrogant and looked down on the common people.

Having been born with an innately prickly personality, he could never bring himself to flatter the nobles and always caused some friction. In particularly bad cases, he was even almost killed for blaspheming the name of a noble and whatnot.

Thus to Trike, the ones people called nobles were beings he believed were fundamentally incompatible with him and were natural enemies.

All that considered, his present situation was the absolute worst.

He was locked up in a cell, and the noble in front of him had almost died by his hands not long ago.

Yet…

‘Why isn’t this noble showing any hostility?’

Rather than hostility, it went so far as feeling his friendliness.

Trike was the type of person that needed to ask right away to satisfy his curiosity if he had any questions.

“Why aren’t you angry?”

“Why must I be angry?”

Trike smirked at Milton’s nonchalant counterquestion and retorted.

“Well… wasn’t I just trying to kill you, Viscount?”

“That was only natural since we met as enemies on the battlefield. What use is there in harboring grudges when the war has ended?”

“Then… what ‘bout me speaking oh-so-rudely to you right now, Viscount? The knight beside you looks like he’s tryna tear me apart with that look in his eyes, no?”

“Mm, my good friend here is rather staunch. I myself do not particularly mind so pay him not heed.”

As Milton replied coolly, Trike chortled and made a remark.

“You’re a pretty strange noble.”

“I am this way by nature. As are you, are you not?”

“Me? What… do you mean…”

“An ordinary mercenary would not act so casually in front of a noble – even more so when their life is in said noble’s hands.”

“Mm… then tis’ my nature as well, I figure.”

“Very good. Then how about us strange people have a little chat?”

With that, Milton released Trike from his cell and moved him to the sitting room.

Jerome did not seem particularly pleased with Trike’s attitude towards Milton, but he did not go against his lord Milton’s will.

Arriving at the sitting room, Milton asked the attendant to bring some tea before starting his talk with Trike.

“You wouldn’t want this to drag along, I assume?”

“Certainly not.”

“Then I shall get straight to the point. How about you join my ranks?”

At Milton’s words, Trike had a sip of the tea and frowned.

“I do not like this.”

“Which part of my proposal do you not-”

“No, not that – I’m talking about this bitter water you call ‘tea’. For the life of me, I don’t get how you noble misters and misses enjoy drinking this.”

Judging from his expression, it seemed he really was displeased with the tea. 

Though Milton merely thought that Trike was an amusing individual, Jerome’s temper was rising from his spot standing behind Milton. As Jerome exuded a murderous vibe, Trike corrected himself with a more serious expression.

“Mmm… Viscount, what do you mean by joining your ranks? A contractual agreement as a mercenary? If not that…”

“What I mean is that I formally appoint you to a position in our lands and you become one of my men.”

“I see. Can I take that as you saying my archery is highly valued?”

“Of course.”

At Milton’s words, Trike nodded with a pleased expression.

‘He hasn’t completely detached himself from a desire for fame. It looks like he still enjoys having his skills acknowledged.’

Milton was forming a picture of Trike’s mindset as he observed his opponent’s demeanor.

Trike seemed to think for a while before speaking.

“I have three conditions.”

“Please, tell me.”

Trike earnestly began at Milton’s consent.

“First and foremost: I expect all my lads to be taken care of as well.”

“Do you mean the Longbow Company?”

“That’s right.”

“I shall see to it happening. They will be recruited as soldiers of my lands.”

“I’m not talking about one or two members but 200 men. Coupled with their families as well, it should be around 500 people.”

“I shall support them with resettlement funds and provide a place to live.”

Trike was a little surprised at Milton’s smooth answers.

‘Does he have the guts? Or is he just that good at lying?’

There had been a considerable number of nobles until now who witnessed Trike’s archery and offered him recruitment upon recognizing his value or uniqueness.

Each time, Trike had proposed the same conditions – but the number of nobles who accepted the first condition could be be counted on one hand. This was because there were many lords who were reluctant to let wild mercenaries become established in their lands.

“Aren’t you worried? My boys are as rough as they come for mercenaries.”

“Only ensure they obey the law. If they do not, they shall be punished according to county law. Would that be a problem?”

“…no. It is not.”

Trike calmly nodded. This one named Milton Forrest before him seemed to be of better character than he initially took him for.

He had a smooth-sailing personality with clear lines when it came to serious business; and Trike also liked that he did not fuss over the small details.

As Trike started to see the benefits of serving under Milton, he was tempted to be over with it and accept Milton’s proposal.

But up until now, there was not a single noble who had accepted his second condition.

They all scoffed at him and asked if it was a jest or cursed him in a fit of anger.

Whenever this happened, Trike would say time and again that they needed a fresh pair of eyes, but even he now knew: that is, of how unfathomable his request was to the nobles.

Yet…

Trike had to say it regardless, with the anticipation that this time could somehow be different.

“Onto my second condition: formally acknowledge me as a knight.”

‘How’s that? Can you really accept this as well?’ was written on Trike’s face. 

Milton responded immediately.

“As you wish. I shall see to it.”

“……”

“And the third?”

“……”

“And the third? Why do you not speak?”

Trike was barely able to answer after Milton had shocked him out of his wits.

“Did you… hear what I said? I asked for the title of a knight.”

“And I said as you wish. Might you have other qualms with this arrangement?”

“Qualms? I’m… I’m an archer. You know, right? I don’t know a rat’s ass about swordsmanship.”

“Are you a complete beginner?”

“Well, I could probably stand toe-to-toe with a 3rd class mercenary using a dagger. But… I’m mostly a fool with nothing to show other than my archery.”

Milton only shrugged in response as Trike listed off his weaknesses.

“Yet you have such brilliant archery, so much so that it threatened my life. I intend to accept you on that valued basis. What is the problem?”

“My god, you’re serious.”

Trike was astonished. This was the first time such a thing was happening in his life.

Viscount Milton Forrest was sincerely recognizing his marksmanship.

Trike teared up a little, and the life that he had lived flashed by him like shadows dancing across a lamp.

 Trike was originally the son of a hunter.

As a result, he naturally learned to use bows from his father as a child.

From the very first time he laid his eyes on a bow, he was instantly entranced. He liked its sleek design and the feeling of pulling back on the string.

When he let go of the bowstring, the arrow would cut through the air and cleanly fly forwards.

The thrill he derived from an arrow perfectly hitting its target completely enthralled the young Trike.

Trike’s father found his archery commendable and decided to teach him all there was to know about the craft. He had the aptitude and talent for archery, and had the all the prerequisites to be trained in this art.

Trike’s archery would make enormous leaps and bounds day by day. If he had continued developing at that rate, he would likely have become an excellent hunter.

However, Trike’s father died in an accident when he was fifteen. He had made a critical mistake while hunting and was consequently unable to detect the approaching of a monster.

The death of Trike’s father brought many changes for him.

He threw away his future as a hunter and resolved to live seeking greater successes. Subsequently, he enlisted in a war as an archer.

Archers were troops that were recruited solely for their archery. On the battlefield, they were treated modestly better than regular foot soldiers.

However, no matter how well they were treated, a soldier was but a soldier in the end. No matter how significant a role Trike played on the frontiers, that never led to an actual distinguishment of his service.

[It’s true, sir. My arrow’s the one that punched a hole straight through that knight’s eye.]

[I was deliberately aiming for the enemy commander’s horse with my bow. It was no stroke of luck.]

[Yes, that was my arrow. I tell you; I really was aiming for him.]

Trike would assert till his voice became hoarse, but all that returned were denouncements of his claims as nothing but lies as reception of him slowly descended into contempt.

The time he hit a moving knight in his eye, directly through the slit of his helmet…

The time he knocked an enemy off his horse in the middle of an intense battle…

His marksmanship was simply too removed from common sense.

No matter how many achievements he garnered on the battlefield, no glory would return to him.

Realizing this after three years of toiling away as an archer, Trike quit being a soldier.

Instead, he became a mercenary.

If he marketed himself as a mercenary on the basis of his ability – and made distinguished contributions in this role – he thought his skills would be acknowledged and respected. He was also all the more confident in his marksmanship, which improved as he partook in the battlefields.

In actuality, Trike did leave an extraordinary mark when he began working as a mercenary. The movements and actions of a mercenary were much more prone to catch one’s eye than a soldier acting as just one man of a whole.

As a result, nobles that recognized Trike’s capabilities began appearing, who would send Trike recruitment offers…

Offers to be an ordinary soldier.

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