Chapter 885: The Unlucky Tradesman
Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
Tangen thought himself very unfortunate.
He was merely an ordinary tradesman who traveled between the City of Evernight and Hermes, selling furs and flannels produced in Graycastle to the church and bringing amulets or sculptures dipped in the holy water back to Graycastle. It had taken him nearly 10 years to finally establish himself and survive the fierce competition among his peers.
Tangen had decided to use the extra money he had to expand his business. Therefore, he had purchased a residence with an additional warehouse at the skirt of the new Holy City to store his inventory. When he had been about to launch his business, however, the situation in the north had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. A great conflict between the new king of Graycastle and the church had broken out, which had resulted in a rapid decrease in the need for tokens of faith like amulets. As a consequence, he had not profited anything from the sale and instead had suffered a loss of around 20%.
Nevertheless, Tangen believed he could still earn something by selling furs. As the tension between the church and the king increased, the price of furs actually went up. At that time, he had firmly believed that the church would gain the eventual victory. As a frequent visitor to the Holy City, Tangen knew how fortified the church was. Even the most skillful knight in the kingdom might not be able to compete against a Judgement Warrior, who was subject to the most intense training in Hermes.
However, to his dismay, the church was defeated and it was a miserable defeat. His business had thus totally failed. Although he had reduced the price by 30%, nobody made a purchase. It was only until the Holy City had descended into a state of chaos and that his inventory had been stolen that Tangen had finally realized that the Holy City was no longer safe.
In fact, he had had an ominous feeling ever since the collapse of the cathedral. However, unwilling to abandon his entire business that he had developed and been working on for so many years, he had taken a chance to stay. The arrival of the army of the Kingdom of Dawn at the foot of the Mountain Hermes, unfortunately, was the last straw. It was obvious that those soldiers had come here for the wealth that the church had accumulated for centuries. Tangen was sure that with intense avarice, those soldiers would have not only have robbed his furs but also taken his life if he continued to linger.
After making the difficult decision with a flash of determination, Tangen had headed to the south with many other merchants. Through toils and snares, they had, in the end, arrived at Graycastle a few days later. They were treated fairly by the garrison troops at the border, asked some simple questions by the soldiers, and taken to a campground specifically for refugees. Afterwards, they were told that a fleet sent by the Duke of the Northern Region would take them back to the city in two days.
Although his life work had been cast to the wind, Tangen was much more fortunate than his rival “miser” Socas who had died on the way. After all, he was alive and still had a place to live in the City of Evernight, where his wife and children were waiting for him. At this thought, Tangen felt much better and thought all his misfortunes had finally come to an end.
But his heart soon sank when two soldiers sent by the new king found him and took him out of the campsite. He tried to bribe the pair for some information with a few silver royals but failed miserably.
Do they want to take advantage of me when I’m most helpless and strip all my money?
Tangen clasped his money pouch over his chest. This was the last bit he had. If he lost it, he would not be able to survive.
Yet he was too scared to refuse these soldiers’ request, for he was certainly not strong enough to resist the ferocious army that had even crushed the church. If he infuriated these monsters, he would probably suffer a more painful death.
Tangen wailed in silence as he walked. “Why am I the misfortunate one? Why did they pick me rather than anyone else? Am I now cursed by the Gods because I dumped all the overstocked amulets and sculptures into the ditch?”
Filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and lamentation, he did not hear the question posed by the deputy battalion commander until a moment later.
The deputy commander did not fly into a rage but repeated his question patiently. “One of my soldiers told me that you know a pathway that would allow us to take a detour around the new Holy City and directly reach the foot of Mountain Hermes. Is it true?”
“The one you told me about. You said some tradesmen often use that pathway to smuggle valuable goods. You did it a few times with them as well.” Another person put in.
“Hold on… So they aren’t coming for my gold royals?” Tangen stole a glance at the person and found it was the young soldier he had met on his way. He remembered his name was Nail. Since Nail looked like a pretty nice guy, Tangen had had a little chat with him and had also attempted to impress Nail by disclosing that he had once evaded sales taxes imposed by the church by using the pathway. He never expected that it would bring him such trouble!
But there was no point regretting it now.
“Well, there’s indeed a pathway. The locals call it Cloud Ladder.” Tangen forced an answer.”But it only appears after the snow melts, and it becomes inaccessible when it’s rainy or foggy. It’s rumored that the pathway leads to different directions, but I only know the one to the Kingdom of Dawn.
“Very well.” The commander nodded. “You show my men the way. If they successfully reach the foot of Mountain Hermes, I’ll reward you for your service.”
“Mercy, sir!” Tangen went to his knees immediately. “I don’t want a reward but just to go home after it’s done.”
“Unfortunately you can’t.” The commander’s reply sent a chill down his spine. “To make sure everything goes smoothly, you must stay with us for the next few days until we no longer need you.”
“But, but sir…” Before Tangen could finish his sentence, the commander tossed him five gold royals.
“This is the deposit. There’ll be another five after the mission is completed.” The commander interrupted him. “You should know very well what 10 gold royals can afford in most parts of Graycastle.”
Tangen swallowed hard. 10 gold royals could afford a life. After doing business for so many years, his entire cash flow was merely a little over 30 gold royals. It was obvious that the commander intended to buy out his life with 10 gold royals, and there was no ground for him to negotiate.
“Will… you really let me go?” Although Tangen already knew the answer, he still asked.
“Naturally. As long as you work hard as a guide, I assure you that you’ll be escorted to the City of Evernight.”
Tangen left the campground apprehensively and found the two soldiers who accompanied him were the young man named Nail and an elder soldier.
“You really cooked my goose.” Tangen smiled dryly. From the look of the two people, Tangen learned that it was simply a coincidence rather than a deliberate frame-up.
“How is it possible?” Nail knitted his brows. “10 gold royals isn’t a small amount. As long as you act with utmost good faith, you don’t need to worry about running into any dangers.”
“Rest assured. Our commander is a man of his word. If he says you can go, you definitely will.” The elder soldier put in. “Plus, 10 gold royals for just showing the way? I’d be more than happy to do that.”
“Just call me Uncle Sang. You don’t need to address me with such formality. If you really insist, do it to Nail. He’s the unit leader, my superior.”
“R-really?” Tangen looked a little embarrassed. He had thought the young man was just a soldier of the lowest military rank.
“Just Nail.” Nail waved his hand casually.
“Can either of you tell me what the mission your deputy battalion commander referred to… exactly is?”
“We have to go around the Hermes Plateau and stop the army of the Kingdom of Dawn at the old Holy City.”
“Unit leader!” Uncle Sang reminded Nail.
“It’s OK. He’ll stay with us in the next couple of days. Plus, he won’t go making any random and blind conjectures if he’s informed of a little bit. This will help us complete our mission. Besides, I’ll shoot him down immediately if I find him plotting something.”
Tangen shivered at Nail’s words, but his attention was drawn to the former half of the speech, which sounded even more inconceivable…
“To stop the army of the Kingdom of Dawn?” Tangen’s eyes were wide open. “That’s impossible. The pathway is scarcely wide enough for two men to walk abreast, and some parts of the road have collapsed. One misstep you’ll fall off the cliff.” “Even if you walk from dawn to dusk, you can only transfer several hundred people in a week. How are you supposed to fight against those knights? It’s also probable that the church will attack you from behind!”
“We aren’t fighting alone,” Nail answered placidly. “His Majesty’s reinforcement will be arriving at Coldwind Ridge soon. You’ll see just how the First Army does battle.”