Circumstances of a Fallen Lord - Chapter 18
“Yes,” Carlton’s soldier said.
His men were not known to talk nonsense. Luisen’s predictions were accurate again. However, Carlton couldn’t believe it until he saw the swarm with his own eyes.
“I need to check,” he said.
“Let’s go to the bell tower,” Luisen said. “It’s the highest location in the area, so we can properly see the surroundings.”
Carlton agreed with his suggestion. Luisen, on the other hand, just didn’t want to miss the spectacle of the magical flames. Since their interests coincided, the two headed for the bell tower.
Carlton and Luisen climbed their way to the top platform. It was quite low for a bell tower, but the castle itself was built atop a small hill and was surrounded by plains. The weather was quite clear, and the two could see far. The wind blew from the direction of the distant river, and the stalks of the ripe wheat swayed, almost flattening with the wind currents.
It was a peaceful and beautiful landscape, but the clouds of war still hung low.
Black wings began to flood the sky, and on the ground the town militia were equipped and in perfect formation.
The atmosphere was explosive. The palms of Luisen’s hands began to sweat.
Finally, the locusts met the defending line. At that moment, a powerful fire shot out of the ‘Flames of the Holy Spirit.’ The huge flames burned splendidly, decorating the clear sky line. The approaching locusts were burned to ashes and fell to the ground in masses.
But the locusts did not falter. They flocked like sheep and descended to devour the people.
The front line, as seen through the binoculars, was a pandemonium.
Huge grasshoppers the size of a fist flew around, beating heads with their wings. They would bite at the flesh and gnaw at the hems of clothes. The humming of their wings gradually grew louder, and Luisen’s eyes grew dizzy from the sheer size of the cloud. It wouldn’t be strange to fall into a state of panic in such an extreme situation.
Nevertheless, the people were not daunted. They steadfastly burned the locusts using the magical tools. Ash fell like rain and black smoke filled the sky.
‘This is it!’ Luisen clenched his fist. The blood of a southerner, hidden deep within himself, began to boil to the surface.
Enemies that wanted to plunder, and those that wanted to protect.
Locusts and humans.
The fight for survival between these two groups continued fiercely. Countless insects died, but their original population was just too high. The locusts did not hesitate for a moment to mourn for their dead companions. The fallen corpses all blew away in the wind.
The first clash ended, leaving behind only black smoke and a burnt smell in the air.
There would be another battle against these pests, but seeing today’s battle, Luisen did not worry. The villagers prepared and fought with all their might.
Luisen was confident in the human side’s victory.
As the tension eased, Luisen naturally burst into laughter. “Isn’t it amazing?”
Underneath the mellow sunshine, Luisen smiled refreshingly. Carlton looked at him with complicated eyes.
“Yes, yes…There really was a plague.” In reality, Carlton was not interested in the locusts. Of course, the agricultural battle was a new and strange sight, but Luisen was more interesting than that.
‘How did you predict this? No one else in the estate had the forethought.’
Perhaps the air was messing with him; Carlton thought that Luisen looked like a beautiful, gentle young master–beautiful but not necessarily resourceful.
‘I really can’t tell.’
Is he smart? Or is he stupid?
Competent or incompetent?
Altruistic or selfish?
Carlton suddenly felt uncomfortable. After smiling, the duke finally melted from a pretty sculpture into a living, breathing person. Seemingly transparent behavior coupled with a mind that felt distant and opaque–Carlton’s curiosity was piqued.
The war against the locusts ended in favor of the humans. Thanks to the preparations made well in advance, the villages suffered very little damage.
‘This time again, I overturned another crisis,’ Luisen thought. According to his memories, there wasn’t another pressing issue in the near future, so he could truly relax.
However, before he could take a moment to breathe, another problem sprung up.
The main instigator was, of course, Carlton.
After he left Carlton’s office, Luisen gave one long and deep sigh. Ruger asked if he was okay after seeing his posture droop, as if all water was drained from his body.
“No, I’m not fine.”
“What did Carlton say?”
“He’s planning to go to war with the Vinard household.”
As soon as the locusts landed, two of the remaining three families rushed to surrender. Luisen hoped that the last remaining family would also raise the white flag, but they remained silent.
“Vinard…Isn’t that a long ways away?” Ruger asked.
“It’s far. So he’s only taking the cavalry for this strike.”
Because the estate of the Vinard family was quite small, it was questionable whether or not a proper battle would take place. Honestly, why couldn’t they just ignore this family? The force of the tide would force the Vinard family to follow the first prince. However, Carlton thought differently.
“He’s asked me to follow him.”
“Is he crazy?” Ruger panicked. “Just where is he taking the duke? The battlefield? Is he out of his mind?”
“I don’t know….”
“Wouldn’t it be useless to bring the duke anyway? Is he planning on threatening the Vinards with your life? That’s not going to work!”
“Your words are….too much…” However, Luisen inwardly agreed with Ruger’s rude remarks. “I’m sure he’s not taking me along because I’ll be of some particular use.”
“Maybe he’s taking me hostage…Or maybe he’s going to use me as a meat shield….?”
“That arrogant little…Honestly, how could a peasant like him sit on his undeserving seat and order nobles around like that?” Ruger’s face distorted in disgust.
“I told you to watch your words.”
“But, this is quite frustrating. My duke, you’re going to have to ride a horse if he’s only taking cavalry.”
That was actually the biggest issue. Luisen’s horseback riding skills were awful. It wasn’t that he was simply bad at riding–he was a catastrophic failure. If someone didn’t hold onto the reins, Luisen was unable to climb up onto the horse’s back. He could barely keep balance while the horse trotted, let alone galloped.
But to ride with Carlton’s skilled cavalry? Even to Luisen, this expectation was ridiculous.
“Can you just tell him you can’t ride a horse?”
“….I’ve told him.”
Luisen told him that he would only be a disturbance with his skill level, but it was clear that Carlton was deaf to his complaints. A noble who couldn’t ride a horse? It seems like Carlton held those kinds of dubious thoughts, dismissing Luisen’s words as some ridiculous lie.
“I think he thinks I’m making excuses to be excused from the journey.”
“….What should we do?”
“It’ll be fine. I’ll somehow manage to follow along….” Luisen said.
Ruger wanted to point out the flaw in that statement but held his tongue. What good would it do to ruminate on this matter further? There was nothing they could change now!!
Luisen and Ruger strolled down the hallway, silent and solemn. However, the two then began to hear an animated conversation from somewhere nearby.
“Hey, wasn’t our lord pretty impressive? He forced surrender from all those nobles with Carlton and managed to block the locusts.”
It was a conversation that tempted their ears. Luisen and Ruger stopped walking and looked for the origin of the muffled sounds. Their voices traveling through an open window, a few servants were obliviously discussing in a vacant lot. They didn’t seem to know that Luisen was passing by.
“He doesn’t seem that smart, but I guess even he has hidden depths.”
‘Hmm…’, the corners of Luisen’s lips twitched. ‘I guess there’s a lot of people who look favorably upon me nowadays.’
People had stopped cursing or sighing at him in the hallways and were now greeting with transparent courtesy. The older servants were moved at the sight of their now slightly matured duke, and one maid had even shyly handed Luisen some cookies she had baked herself.
‘Can I let myself feel good and take pride?’
Compliments were always thrilling. And, it felt all the more exciting since they came from those that had always denigrated him. His pride had risen almost as much as he suffered these past few days.
But, just then, another voice cut into the conversation with jeers.
“He probably just got lucky.”
“How could this be pure luck? He predicted the events of the future, and Carlton, that jerk, is leaving quickly as well. I will not ignore my lord anymore.”
“How could a spoiled noble stuck in a castle know about a potential swarm? Neither the general nor the treasurer saw this coming.”
“He was in the capital a lot right? Maybe he heard from there.”
“What bullshit. In the capital he was always drunk and fooling around with famous female actors.”
“….In any case, this has really reminded us of the status of the duke!”
“Isn’t this just him rebuilding the prestige that he himself had destroyed?”
The two servants seemed to be at odds.
“Did I….play around with actresses….?”
“Yes. Don’t you remember?” Ruger looked at Luisen suspiciously. Luisen furtively avoided his gaze.
Meanwhile, the conversation between the servants continued.
“But our lord, don’t you think he’s suddenly changed?”
“The last time I had quarreled with Carlton’s soldiers, he showed up to defend me. ‘If you have complaints about my servant, tell them to me,’ like that.”
“He’s not drinking, he’s finishing his meals cleanly, he’s thrown no temper tantrums…He’s become good-natured and easy going.”
“He even restrained himself when Carlton was really grinding our lord’s bones with work. Was he always such a patient man?”
“No, never. Before, he wasn’t even as patient as my five year old son. It’s real; people change in times of crisis.”
The servants slowly began to notice the changes in Luisen. His efforts in protecting the servants from unreasonable treatment had paid off. His actions came as a great surprise to those in the castle.
However, for one every person who thought positively of him, there were those who thought the opposite. The better Luisen’s reputation was, the more those people would grit their teeth and deny it.
TL: Thanks for joining me for this chapter~ Are they warming up to each other? >.<