The Biography of Albrecht – Chapter 32
The Central Region and the East was separated by a mountain range called the ‘White Mountains’. The White Mountains reached to the southeast of the Central Region and formed a partial boundary with the South.
A huge horse galloping across the land squeezed out its remaining energy and ran a little further to the south of Central Region. A few low mountains could be seen around. The morning sun of winter shone drearily on the ground. The wind blowing from the mountains was ferocious as if howling at people to go away.
Albrecht, who now had his hooded cloak on once again, headed to the lost village amid the fierce wind. The village seemed empty from a distance; however, when he entered the village, he could sense signs of life inside despite not being able to see anyone physically.
“I’m not here to hurt you. I just want to ask something. Please come out.”
Only silence answered him. Albrecht sighed, and drew his sword.
“Come out while I’m still asking nicely. I’m riding a horse. It’s useless to run away.”
Even after waiting for a long time, no one seemed willing to come out.
“Come out on the count of three. Otherwise, I’ll find you all and kill you one by one.”
Though he didn’t really plan to kill them, he thought that a threat was needed to persuade them. Just then, a scruffy boy crept out of the corner of a dilapidated building. He wasn’t a beggar but his clothes made him look like one. He had blond hair and blue eyes. He seemed to be the same age as Albrecht and was a little bit taller for his age.
He still had a pretty face even though he was thin. His eyes looked bright yet it also somehow made him look tough. He was thin but didn’t seem like he had been starving; rather, he just looked like his build was on the slender side.
Albrecht was also tall but his face was covered in scars and lines. It would be hard to believe that he was actually only 15 years old.
If it weren’t for his pure-looking eyes that he got from his mother, he would have already been mistaken as a bandit.
Even though the boy in front of him looked younger, he might also be older than him.
As he looked at the boy, Albrecht asked, “Is this Penbacht?”
The boy nodded without a word.
“Do you know Eric?”
The boy still remained silent as he shook his head. Albrecht was at a loss. He had no idea what to do now.
“What have you been doing here?”
The boy didn’t seem like a mute; perhaps he just didn’t want to talk.
He hesitated at first then stammered to say something.
“Um, houses, I’m going to take some wood from them…”
“What are you going to do with it?”
As the boy tried to explain, a person hiding somewhere said in a loud whisper, “Randolph! Don’t talk!”
Albrecht sighed again.
“I can fucking hear you.”
The already strained atmosphere became more strained as Albrecht cursed.
“The person who just spoke, come out. No, all of you should come out. Don’t test my patience.”
Still no one came out even after he spoke harshly.
“Come out now!”
He hollered so loudly, his voice resounded through the nearby mountains. The boy named Randolph, who was standing a little far ahead of him, fell onto his butt in surprise.
After a while, children who seemed a bit older than Albrecht started to come out, followed by younger ones about the same age as Jurgen. There were more than ten of them.
Albrecht was reminded of the group of children in Kaltern who used to follow him.
However, that memory didn’t stop him from approaching the boy named Randolph with a sword in one hand.
“What are you going to do with the wood? If you don’t answer, you’ll die.”
Obviously, he didn’t really mean to kill him. Randolph’s answer, however, surprised him.
“I—I can’t tell you.”
“But I’ll kill you if you don’t tell me.”
Albrecht had a scary look on his face as he stared at the boy.
“Then—then just kill me.”
Randolph looked frightened yet his eyes showed that he was determined. Albrecht was a little impressed. Most people, even adults, were easily intimidated and usually cowered in fear when threatened. However, Randolph chose to remain silent even though he might die.
It was a perfect example of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread. But somehow, Albrecht liked the boy.
The problem was one of the children could no longer stand the scary situation and burst into tears. The crying became contagious and soon the other children began to cry too. The other older kids also got choked up.
Albrecht was now at his wit’s end. Because his threats were empty anyway, he didn’t think much when he told the boy he would kill him if he didn’t talk.
Suddenly, he remembered Diego. First, he stowed his sword in its scabbard and dismounted his horse to retrieve some of the food he bought before. He took out some dried fruits and nuts that children would surely like.
Then he said timidly, “Let’s—let’s make a deal.”
When the older kids saw the dried fruits and heard Albrecht offer a deal, they became wary and tried to see through his tricks. The other wailing children immediately opened their eyes wide.
“If you stop crying, I’ll give you one of these.”
The effect of the dried fruits was surprisingly great. The children began to force themselves to swallow their tears. Albrecht beckoned them to come to him when the crying stopped. They were scared at first but soon quietly came over, probably because they wanted to eat the dried fruits so badly.
Albrecht wanted to give them more, but he didn’t have much. He could only give one to each of them. The little ones quickly put the dried fruits into their mouths, squirming. Only then did the atmosphere calm down a bit.
“Let’s continue with the deal. It’s too windy here, so let’s get inside there.”
Albrecht went inside a less dilapidated house. The older ones were still on their guard, still afraid of him, while the younger ones followed obediently.
He tied his horse near a wall that could block the strong wind and entered the house.
Albrecht took a seat while the children stood awkwardly in front of him.
“All of you, sit down. This isn’t a request. It’s an order.”
If Diego saw what he was doing right now, he would probably ask him what in the world he was doing. Even he found himself pathetic.
Even if he looked through his memories from Earth, he never had any special conversations with children who weren’t his relatives. He was a white collar worker, used to spending his money to buy things. He had never made a ‘deal’ with someone before.
Also, the fact that the children back in Kaltern naturally followed him because he was strong. This was actually a first experience for him.
Anyway, the children cautiously sat in front of him.
“Kuhum, hum. I swear in the name of my father and mother that I will not hurt you. It was rash of me to threaten you. I didn’t really mean it when I said I would kill.”
The older ones stared at the floor while the little ones stared blankly at him.
Yes, I expected this reaction.
“I came here to look for the mother of a man named Eric. He told me nothing but to go to Penbacht. If you tell me anything more then I’ll give you this.”
He showed them a handful of dried fruits. The little ones showed interest, their eyes growing bigger, but the older ones were indifferent.
Albrecht took out his purse and drew a gold coin from it.
“I’ll give you this too.”
It was now the older ones’ turn to widen their eyes. Gold coins weren’t valuable in their current situation. Nevertheless, gold coins were gold coins. It was probably a first for some of them to see a gold coin.
The coin caused a stir in the group.
One tactless kid asked, “Should we ask the adults first?”
“Hey! Why did you say that?!”
One boy scolded the tactless kid. The little boy frowned and bowed his head sullenly. Albrecht saw this opportunity and no longer cared about the deal.
“Hey, I fucking heard it all. Take me to the place where the adults are. You, come here.”
He gave all the dried fruits to the tactless little kid. A wide grin instantly formed on his face. The other kids scrambled up and began to eat the dried fruits.
Albrecht stood up in front of the older boys. They were, once again, frightened.
“I’ll say it again, I won’t hurt you. I am a knight from Kaltern in the North. I won’t bother you like the other knights did to you. I just want to finish the business I came here for.”
All the kids looked at Randolph. He was probably their leader. He also looked scared and at a loss for what to do.
Just then, sounds of people approaching were heard. Albrecht listened carefully and thought that they were knights. The children paled and suddenly contemplated.
“Stay inside. I’ll go check it out.”
Albrecht took his shield and sword. Then he went out and took his axe that he had hung on the saddle.
He saw a knight riding a horse followed by a dozen armed soldiers. There were two carriages in the middle of their procession. It looked like they were in the middle of their looting. Packhorses carried a variety of livestock like cattle, goats, and chicken.
They were on their way into the ruined village of Penbacht, planning to either have an early lunch or to prepare to camp out in the village.
The knight riding the horse was none other than Ludwig von Vanhenheim. His face showed surprise when he saw Albrecht.
Ludwig, with his signature relaxed yet tired expression, got off his horse and handed the reins to a soldier nearby.
“Well, I didn’t expect to meet you again.”
“Tell me about it.”
The two said nothing more. They had nothing to say to each other. However, from Ludwig’s point of view, he needed to take actions when encountering a noble or a knight.
“Were you planning to stay here too?”
“We’ll be staying here with you, then.”
The soldiers behind Ludwig entered the village as well and seemed to be preparing for their temporary stay. Albrecht thought that if they ever found the children hiding behind him, they would surely look next for the village where the ‘adults’ were located.
“I want you to leave.”
“? Why? This isn’t your territory.”
Ludwig stared at Albrecht in disbelief, his eyes asking for the reason why. Then he looked behind Albrecht and grinned.
Albrecht also looked behind him and was surprised.
These little idiots.
The children, who had been told to stay inside the house, were huddled together next to a wall while looking their way.
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