When Drake woke up, the two maids that tended to his wounds were gone.
He was in his bed, refreshed by a night of sleep. His arm still hurt, and his back was riddled with hematomas, but overall, he had mostly recovered from the life and death battle. When Drake arrived in the kitchen, Lewis knelt beside him.
"Please forgive me, my lord. I didn't arrive fast enough to help you. Please punish this lowly one."
Drake raised an eyebrow.
'Lewis managed to gather over 200 soldiers on a moment's notice and saved me the trouble of taking care of the prisoners…Why does he feel guilty?'
"What are you talking about? I know you did your best. If I punish those who do their best, there won't be many people still alive in this castle", Drake said while laughing
Lewis smiled. This was the young master he served. Someone who was living life to the fullest. A true genius, a true noble. However, his smile turned grim.
"Still, I didn't manage to notice the rebels before it was too late. Punish me or else I won't feel at ease."
"So be it. How about you investigate these mercenaries?"
"What do you mean?"
"I want intel. These mercenaries were wearing brand new weapons. Of course, they might have purchased them a long time ago, but this Jonas guy was not used to handling his own sword. And after taking a closer look to it, I found out that it was made of black iron, a rare ore that can only be found in the Faraday County."
"Are you implying…"
"No. There is no way the Count Faraday, to whom my father swore allegiance to, would do that."
"I believe that it is someone close to the Count. The Moonlight territory is quite vast. It has fertile plains, plenty of forests and a few mines of copper and iron. However, the Count has never bothered my father with anything. The Count didn't ask for a yearly donation, or military men to be sent."
"This is because the lord Allan is extremely strong! Each Dark Legion warrior can take on five men of the Count Faraday!"
"This might be true, but you are underestimate the power lying behind the Count nobility rank. Although most of nobles do not possess grand knight level sword arts and breathing techniques, those who became Counts often left behind either one of the two. The Count Faraday might not be my father's match individually, but he possesses over fifteen knights bound to him by oath. My father only has 5 knights under him. You, out of all people, should know that strong individuals in a battlefield make more difference than sheer numbers."
"The Count left my father alone because of their friendship. They fought together, drank together, and even assisted to each other's marriages. It is a rare friendship in the Child King reign. People are battling out for the throne and control over Reynold, the Child King, yet the Count Faraday is one of the few powers hidden in the shadow, preferring peace over the tormented political whirlpool in the Porfield Kingdom Capital. The second reason is that the Moonlight Family has been the guardian of the Barbarian Mountain for years already. Blackwater is only a few dozen kilometres away from the Barbarian Mountain Range, and the family has repressed them for centuries already, never once failing to their job."
"So instead of the Count, you expect someone hostile to him trying to stir up trouble for him, going after the Count's vassals directly? This sure is under-handed."
"Indeed, but just imagine the outcome if my father lost Blackwater. He would have lost his castle, and his hands would have been full with taking the city back. If they go after each vassal of the Count Faraday…then it would truly be disastrous for his household. So please investigate it. It shall be your punishment. Do not disappoint me."
Lewis nodded, as if this task had more value than his own life. Such dedication and loyalty made Drake flinch. If Lewis wasn't crippled, he would have broken through the knight realm a long time ago. In fact, if it weren't for his hurt pride, he could have broken through.
[Human Male. Name – Lewis
Age – 41 years. Rank: Preparatory Knight.
Status: Left hand crippled.
Strength – 2.8 (+1) | Dexterity – 1.2 | Constitution – 2.8 | Internal Energy – 3.0
Skills: Kadac Swordsmanship (Proficiency: Intermediate), horsemanship (proficiency: advanced), Butler (Proficiency: Advanced), Barbarian Strength (+1 point of Strength), Geography (Proficiency: Advanced)]
Barbarians were born strong. This is something the Viscount had fully grasped. By turning them into his army, he became unmatched in the whole region. As Lewis pointed it out, even though the Viscount had a smaller army, his soldiers were individually far stronger.
Lewis was the prime example of such a saying. Of course, Allan had trustworthy knights following him: Audis the ruthless, Lara the Viper, Hugo the iron leg, George the flower knight or Kalan, the assassin. All of them could take on tens of soldiers by themselves. But even these knights would be helpless when facing the Dark Legion in formations.
If it was led by the Viscount himself, then the formation was even more frightening. No one could stop this army of barbarians. However, unlike normal barbarians, the dark legion warriors possessed skills and refined sword arts, a rarity in the whole kingdom.
Drake was grinning. After successfully repressing the rebellion and becoming a knight, Drake felt the satisfaction of holding power in his hands. The high-ranking officials would not look at him as a teenager anymore. They would look at him as a knight.
Too much attention was not good, of course, since it could attract jealousy. But to Drake, fame and honour was a resource. With fame, merchants would be more attracted to the area. The economy would flourish even more. With reputation, other lords will be more trustworthy and will try to form amical relationships with you. Commercial routes, military alliances…There were many benefits with reputation.
Drake aimed at something else, however.
He aimed at joining a special organization of the kingdom, a restricted circle that some might regard as a sect. It was a hidden organization of mysterious beings who called themselves acolytes, capable of wielding magic and casting spells. Their leader, a fearsome magus, had protected the kingdom from annihilation more than once, though the river of time slowly made the people forget about these interventions or turned them into legends.
Drake, however, believed in magic. It's not like he wanted to become a magus. He had no such ambition. Living off his days in a peaceful castle, protected by an army, free to pursue the very limits of what a knight could achieve seemed very pleasant.
But to do so, he needed a such an organization. A mere rebellion almost caused his family to be disgraced.
His father had everything: a strong army, an elite force (the dark legion), a prosperous economy that filled the treasury with more than 800 gold coins per month after deducting the expenditure of maintaining the buildings, the walls and the army, as well as a powerful political force with his charisma and friendships with the 4 out of 5 neighbouring territories, including long-lasting friendship with the Count Faraday himself.
The Moonlight Household was only lacking in one field: information.
If Drake could enter the Magical Court Organization, he would solve this problem forever, turning his family's weakness into its forte.
Only one territory didn't agree to form a friendly relationship with the Viscount Allan. It was the Frey House, led by an old Viscount who held a grudge against Drake's Grandfather.
'Mm…Viscount Frey, huh? Seems like a good suspect. He has ambitions, and motive. The only piece of the puzzle that was lacking was…the means to do so!'