Chapter 82 Ten thousand leaves(2)
Translator: BaeBae Editor: BaeBae
Swallen got on top of the carriage and looked around. Far in the horizon towards the west, a red dust cloud could be seen.
Juan didn’t even turn his head. While he had been concentrating on controlling his mana, his senses had been dialled to high.
Thirty or so people. All were on horses and armed. Juan felt a familiar scent among them.
Swallen looked towards Juan with a surprised face. They were still far in the distance, barely showing their silhouette.
Juan was curious to see how Swallen would handle the Paladins. There was a chance that Swallen could reveal Juan’s identity and aim to take the 10,000 gold leaves as her reward. He wondered what he’d do then.
Well, in all honesty, it didn’t matter.
When he’d killed the entire blue rose knights, he had made the decision to not bother hiding his identity nor his trace. And until now he’d made true to his own decision.
Then suddenly, Swallen put a big head scarf over Juan’s head.
“Hide that 10,000 gold leaves head well.”
As the sound of hooves neared, the other mercenaries began to turn heads. Instead of riding on, the Paladins came to a halt before the carriage.
“My Paladin lords, what seems to be the problem?”
The coachman greeted in a cheekily way. But his smile disappeared as soon as the Paladin knights drew their swords.
One of the knights who looked to be the leader moved forward. On his back was a flag with a black snake on a green background.
“Who’s in the carriage?”
“Just mercenaries my lord. We’re mercenaries passing through the Manas ranges, to get to Tiery. We’re planning to join Earl Henna’s unit.”
The Paladins looked back and forth with each other. When the Paladin wearing the snake shaped helmet gave the signal, the other Paladins formed a circle around the carriage.
The mercenaries stiffened at suddenly being surrounded and gripped their weapons.
A single Paladin was enough to easily kill six mercenaries. But right now, there were thirty Paladins.
Sweat began to drop from the mercenaries’ forehead.
“I’m sorry but I’ll be doing an inspection. Please open the carriage door.”
The Paladin wearing the snake helmet stood in front of the carriage door and shouted loudly.
“My name is Commander Beltre of the Abhorrent Paladin knight order! I advise those inside to calmly cooperate with the inspection. You will be free to go before long.”
It was common to see Paladins purge people in fire if they didn’t follow what they asked.
Knowing retaliation was futile, the mercenaries loosened their grip.
Holding onto his dagger, Juan looked for any openings that he could use. Before they’d realized what’s going on, Juan was confident in striking down at least three.
But then, Swallen put her hand on his dagger. Still wearing her smile, she shook her head.
The door opened, and the mercenaries one by one stepped out. Juan and Swallen walked out last.
The Paladin claiming himself to be Beltre, immediately looked at Juan.
Without moving an inch, Juan returned his stare. Beltre stretched out his arm to remove the scarf covering Juan’s head revealing his black hair.
Seeing the hair colour, the other Paladins approached closer with their swords drawn. Beltre held up his hand, signalling them to stay back.
Without saying much, he put the headscarf back on Juan’s head.
“I know right now’s a hard time for you people from outside the border. But do understand. We’re on edge due to the ruckus that one of your people made in the south. Have you by any chance seen a kid aged around 10? He has the same black coloured hair as you.”
“I have not.”
He wasn’t lying. But for some reason, Juan thought about telling him the truth but he was finding it too amusing how they were still looking for a kid.
“If you do, I’d like it if you’d report it to the nearest church or military base. The sooner this chase is over, the sooner your guys’ lives will be back to normal.”
When Beltre let go of Juan, the other Paladins shared a dissatisfied look with another. But as soon as Beltre turned his head, their heads all dropped down like a frog in front of a snake.
Inside a Paladin order, the commander’s authority was absolute.
“I’ll mention it to the other mercenaries as well. Nearby, we found traces of the traitorous Thorntree priesthood’s activity. Six corpses belonging to the traitors were found in which traces left were similar to that which was left by the demon of Tantil. If there’s anything suspicious, make sure to report without hesitation!”
Though none of the mercenaries in particular seemed to have any desire in their eyes, Beltre finished his one-sided words and turned his back. Then as if he remembered something, he whispered to Juan.
“I’ve noticed that those from outside the empire don’t know about the emperor’s ways. You’ll do well to be careful of every action you take. I’ll be remembering your face.”
Beltre gave his warning and signaled at his knights.
As Beltre and his Paladin order disappeared towards south, a sigh of relief escaped from everyone’s mouth. The mercenaries spouted several words at Paladins and the church while they got back into the carriage.
Beltre was silently staring ahead as his horse galloped along. Knowing that Beltre wasn’t in the best mood, the other knights refrained from talking.
He wasn’t enjoying the red wasteland scenic view. The barren wilderness that stretched over the horizon brought up a distant memory. Empire’s eastern land. It was where Beltre had been born and raised.
Beltre, who was born after the beginning of eternal rule, the east was a violent and dreadful place.
Unable to witness the east’s beauty that once existed, he had lost his family in the flames that purged the land.
The barren soil spread and turned the grounds red, and Beltre at the time kept himself alive by eating discarded food in garbage cans.
Someone came up to him. His pupil that stood narrow like a snake, shined frighteningly underneath his visor. It was Marco, his Vice commander.
“Wouldn’t it have been better to take him just in case? It was obvious at first glance that he was anything but ordinary.”
“Leave it. The suspect that his highness has described is a black haired boy that’s aged around 13 years old. If he wasn’t ordinary just like you said, there’s no reason to go and waste our strength where it’s not needed.”
“But, that bastards a heretic that’s not been graced by our emperor.”
With irritated eyes, Beltre glared at his Vice commander of the Abhorrent knights.
“Keep in mind that the White Crow knights met their doom by not following our highness’s orders and using their strength on other efforts. And we’re currently cleaning after their mess. Are we to delay things even further by wasting our time on other efforts, just like them?”
“………My apologies for my careless thinking.”
Marco bitterly admitted. Beltre recalled the orders of Pope Helmut once again.
Don’t waste time on other things and focus only on hunting down the black haired boy.
The twelfth Paladin order was specialised in pursuit and assasination.
Beltre’s job was to move around the empire and execute secret orders that the Pope gave him.
Often, the order split up and operated in smaller teams working on different cases. A case rarely required the efforts of the entire order.
For most given orders, it was easily performed to a tee with the power of ‘snake’ that was bestowed to the knights of Abhorrent order.
And while this time, they were to carry out an important task, it didn’t change the fact that they were Paladin knights. Even if it was unrelated to their task in hand, naturally they felt a rising feeling of hate towards those deemed ‘enemies of the church’.
But Beltre was different. What fueled him was not faith, but his desire to survive and to be successful.
‘Black haired boy you say……’
From a noble’s newborn baby to an elderly that had but a few days to live, Beltre was not fussy about who his target was. However, this time it was a bit unusual.
From the ongoing rumours, it was hard to guess the identity of his target.
‘Black emperor, Tantil’s demon, Blue rose knight slaughterer, and even…….’
A rumour about the emperor’s return.
It was a rumour that brought out a mix of complicated and unpleasant emotions. In truth, Beltre didn’t really have a deep faith in the emperor. Rather than a believer, he was more a private soldier of the Pope.
He was ready to do anything, grab anyone’s hand if that’s what it took to crawl out from the hell that was his eastern land.
Luckily, the church’s priests interpreted that as faith towards their emperor. But even considering all that, rumours of the emperor returning put him in a foul mood.
‘Talk about the emperor returning to save Hiveden from its disaster….. So in the eyes of the emperor the east must not have any problems huh.’
Even though many people had died at Hiveden, it was nothing compared to the internal conflicts that have plagued the east for the better part of 40 years.
To Beltre who grew up in this land, he was left amused upon hearing the rumours of the emperor having returned. But rumours were just rumours. Rumours of the black haired boy changed so frequently that now it was even said that he’d turned into a giant flaming warrior……..
Beltre quickly stopped his thoughts.
‘Wait. Appearance changed?’
His other knights that were riding hard also hastily came to a stop. A thick cloud of dust rose into the air.
Beltre’s face which he’d taken off his visor was pale white.
“Everyone, we’re going back.”
Without saying a word more, Beltre turned his horse back towards the route he’d come from and started riding hard. The other knights didn’t ask anything.
As Beltre chased the tracks of the carriage that had far disappeared over the horizon, he cursed at himself.
The red dust of the wilderness rose high from where Beltre’s rode.
Juan, who had been keeping an eye out on the Paladins, sighed as he sensed their trajectory change back towards him.
From the east, a murderous intent was sharply approaching.
Swallen opened the window and looked towards the east. Her eyes frowned upon seeing a cloud of dust appear on the horizon.
“So. What are you going to do?”
Juan readied his dagger. She didn’t bother convincing him this time.
“The only thing I can do.”
Swallen suddenly opened the carriage and shouted.
“Everyone get off!”
“Huh? Wh, what?”
The mercenaries asked in panic but Swallen didn’t idly sit around.
She grabbed the collar of the nearest mercenary that was sleeping and threw him out.
The mercenary screamed as he tumbled onto the red wasteland.
“Swa, Miss Swallen, what are you doing!”
Despite protests, Swallen grabbed her next target and threw him out as well.
The mercenary hit his head onto the ground and rolled to a stop, now unconscious.
The last mercenary threw himself out voluntarily after receiving a look from Swallen.
It looked as if none of them had been critically hurt as the carriage had been moving slowly.
“Coachman. You as well.”
“I’ll need an explanation for this, Miss Swallen!”
The coachman begrudgingly handed Swallen the reins.
The carriage suddenly picked up speed having seen its horseman change. But it was not enough to out pace the Paladins in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Beltre glanced at the fallen mercenaries on the side but skimmed past knowing better than to waste time on them.
But the vice commander Marco thought differently. Upon raising his finger to signal his knights, 5 of them moved out of the pack. Spears were shot through the chests of the mercenaries who were now just dazely getting up.
Swallen’s face grimaced at hearing the screams, but she bit her lips and refrained from looking back.
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