“Ohoh… Fiancé? Hera, you actually brought your sister here to get married?” Rafiniya was the first to shout, her eyes seemingly full of stars, “Gallant adventurers protecting the beautiful princess, who has come to the imperial capital to meet her prince. There’s nothing more romantic than this…”
Pam and Leylin said their congratulations, making Yalani blush a little, but Leylin was rather flabbergasted. He had thought that this journey revolved around Hera, but who would have thought that the final lead was actually Yalani, the young lady who hadn’t even reached adulthood yet?
‘Plus, her elder sister is the one sending her off to get married? Such a tradition doesn’t seem to exist in the kingdom. Did something happen to their elders?’ Leylin could sense that something was not right.
Seeing the mercenaries make a racket in front of them, the two bodyguards standing at the gate of the mansion could no longer hold themselves back. “What are you doing? Don’t you know that this is the viscount’s residence?”
A bodyguard walked out. He was wearing a brand new set of armor, wiped so conscientiously that it was shining without a single speck of dust on it. He towered over Leylin and his company, his eyes filled with disdain.
The reputation mercenaries held in the imperial city was only slightly better than that of bandits and gangsters. They were never a synonym of law-abiding citizens, and the nobles even loathed having any sort of relation to them. It would be so embarrassing!
As for the fiancé and so on? The bodyguard sized up Hera and her sister, who were dressed plainly, and evidently chose not to believe them. Yalani tugged at the hem of her elder sister’s skirt, then turned to look at her own clothes. Her family wasn’t very well off to begin with, and they had encountered huge misfortune. After a long and arduous journey on foot, even their best clothing would look like beggars’ rags.
She and her sister now looked like unsophisticated girls from the countryside, entering the city for the first time.
The young lady lowered her head, and practically wanted to bury her head underground. “Young sir…”
Hera was flushed red, but could only pick herself up and negotiate. “I’m from Emon City…”
She simultaneously took out a small cloth bundle that she treasured. Peeling it open layer by layer, she revealed the medal of a noble family that was in good condition. Perhaps it was the effect of the badge; the bodyguard glanced at Hera before taking the badge in to inform others, even if he was still doubtful.
Leylin and his company waited in the wind for more than half an hour. Rafiniya had grown rather impatient by the time the entrance to the viscount’s mansion finally opened slowly. Someone who looked like a butler walked out, his face plastered with a professional smile.
“May I know who is the young miss from the Lanta family?” Hera inhaled deeply and walked forward, with a smile to please. “I’m Hera Lanta! She’s my sister, Yalani!”
This was their reality: they had no choice. She and her younger sister had no one to rely on in the imperial city, and they could only attach themselves to Yalani’s viscount fiancé if they wanted a good life. They couldn’t leave a bad impression on the butler whom he trusted as well.
“Respected young ladies, please follow me in. The viscount is waiting for you!” The butler bowed at the side.
“Also… They are the mercenaries I hired. I was able to make it safely to the imperial city all thanks to them…” Hera looked over at Leylin and the rest and explained herself.
“Mercenaries?!” Disdain was apparent in the butler’s eyes, and only Rafiniya, who was riding a warhorse, made him do a double take. “But the viscount only mentioned two ladies…”
“Hera, you guys head in first! We’ll just wait a while longer at most…” Leylin smiled as he said to Hera. He glanced at the scornful look in the butler’s eyes, and inwardly smiled to himself. ‘This expression… Does he treat Hera and her sister like poor relatives who came knocking because they ran out of money? Interesting, interesting!”
Leylin magnanimously forgave the butler’s offense because he was watching a show. He even pulled Rafiniya back, someone whose expression showed that she had a belly full of anger, leaving her with no one to vent it on. Leylin was laughing so hard to himself that his stomach was about to start cramping.
Hera sent him an appreciative look, then took her sister’s hand as she walked into the entrance.
“Ley, look at them! That expression!” Rafiniya’s hair was completely about to explode, like an enraged kitten. “Ahh… I can’t take it. At worst, I won’t take the commission this time…”
“You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to, but don’t drag the rest of us down…” Leylin’s sarcastic blows at the side met with Old Pam’s common sentiments. His eyes went watery. “Missy! You can’t let poor Old Pam leave without a salary…”
“You haven’t gotten your salary? Just the mere ogre ears we got on the way should be enough of a profit…” Rafiniya mumbled to herself, but her temper did not flare up.
In actual fact, Hera and her sister didn’t have many assets to begin with. The two announced that they would raise the commission on the way, but after half the journey their group was stunned; the amount of cash they had on them was not even enough to pay what they’d promised before!
Furthermore, they hadn’t paid half of the coachman’s commission and the fee for the carriage at the Gloomwood Castle!
Although Rafiniya didn’t give a hoot about that little sum of money, she couldn’t not care about the others. After hearing what Leylin and Old Pam said, she could only walk away while fuming. “Anyway, I won’t demand the money, you guys can split it among yourselves…”
“Oh, Rafiniya! You’re really the most kindhearted lady in the world!” The dwarf, Old Pam, immediately cheered. Even the coachman at the side revealed a smile. He had gained a deeper understanding about this strange team of mercenaries after spending time with them.
Rafiniya didn’t lack money at all, and neither did the mysterious Ley. The only remaining people who would split the money would be him and Old Pam. People of the lower class never once minded having an extra share, even if it was just a few copper coins.
*Clang!* The main door swung open once again. Yalani’s arm was hooked onto a young nobleman’s, while Hera and the butler were standing behind them.
“These the mercenaries you employed? There’s even a dwarf? I think joining a circus would be more suitable for it… Oh, right, have you seen the the Golden Dwarf Circus?” This youthful nobleman had a wan face and very dark eyebags, making him look like a person whose body had been wasted entirely on wine and women. He appeared very depressed, and completely disregarded Leylin and company, turning around to chat with Hera instead.
“Daniel, Rafiniya and Leylin are both extremely powerful Professionals...” Hera smiled cordially as she began to turn the nobleman’s attention to Leylin and the others. “I believe that they’ll be of help to you if you win them over…”
Although she had started to notice that Daniel was harbouring malicious intentions, Hera still tried as much as possible to indirectly make her point, even though this made Rafiniya shoot a resentful look at her. She was indeed trying her best to ‘help’ Leylin and the others from the bottom of her heart.
Rafiniya aside, the only way out for civilian Professionals was to wait upon a noble family. This way, if they did great service decades later, they might be able to receive their master’s favour, and obtain the position of an honorary knight or a lord.
With this, they would be able to seek a piece of territory and gain a hereditary title. From then on, they would have entered the ranks of the upper class. In actual fact, that was how Leylin’s grandfather started out, just that the person he had vowed his loyalty to was the king.
“Hm… You’re right!” Viscount Daniel couldn’t help but swallow a mouthful of saliva as he stared at Hera’s full bosom. As compared to his fiancée, who was still a young girl, her sister was evidently a much more mature woman. Of course, it would be perfect if he could have both of them.
Under the beauty’s pleading, Daniel finally looked at them in the eye reluctantly as he sized them up. “You are very lucky. I, Viscount Daniel, am willing to accept all of you as my followers. Kneel and swear an oath!
“And you! You can be my honorary knight, my personal one…” When his gaze fell on Rafiniya, Daniel’s eyes clearly got brighter, and his eyes lingered for a little longer on her slender thighs. His butler, however, was trying his best to bite his lips, and didn’t say anything.
He understood his young master’s character very well, and knew that he would absolutely turn a deaf ear to any advice. But how could he promise to take them in as followers so easily, especially when there was also a dwarf and a coachman in their party?
However, the young master would regret his decision after a few days at most, and give them a random position as a guard or a servant or something. They would be satisfied anyway.
Even if they were servants, people in the viscount’s mansion were a notch higher than average civilians! This was an established theory in the butler’s mindset.
“What? Aren’t you going to quickly thank the viscount for his grace?” Hera signalled at Leylin and the others with her eyes.
She thought that she had found the best way out for these mercenaries. After all, compared to living a life of brushes with death, what was so bad about being a nobleman’s subordinate?
It was an unavoidable fact that although she was sharp-witted, she had a rigid mind. Or perhaps this was the way nobles thought.
“Mighty master, I, Pollan, hereby swear that…” What exceeded her expectations was that Rafiniya, Leylin and even Old Pam did not move an inch, only the coachman leapt forward with bright eyes.
“We are extremely grateful for your kindness, distinguished viscount. Unfortunately, I do not have any intention to serve a noble family. We are here just to settle our commission…”
“You all…” Hera was flushed with anger. This was the first time she felt hateful towards Leylin. How dare he decline her good intentions? Did he not know that there was a world of difference between a noble and a civilian?
Even Rafiniya frowned at this move, not appreciative of Hera’s ‘kindness’. Now that she thought herself to be the mistress of the viscount’s mansion, Leylin’s actions instantly made her feel like her pride had been hurt.
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