Sword of Dawnbreaker - Chapter 175
Chapter 175: Investigation
The rain stopped the next day, but the sky was still gloomy.
The Kant territory was cloaked in permanent dark clouds; the last rain before winter was always reluctant to leave.
In the coming few days, this land would probably still receive multiple medium-scale rainfalls, and such plentiful rain was extremely beneficial for the territory’s specialty —— magical medicine.
The majority of magical medicine grew in winter as well.
Although the plants and their roots would appear to be withered and dead, all spellcasters knew these ‘spiritual plants’ were still being nourished by the magical environment and would revitalize again during Revival Month the next year.
And as for how much they could grow in the winter season, a significant portion depended on the last rain before frost and snow arrived.
Gawain had breakfast with Viscount Victor Kant in the dining room of the castle.
As the Viscountess was unable to receive guests due to her poor health and the Viscount’s only son wasn’t at the territory, there were only the two of them dining at the huge table.
Even though the tableware was splendid and the sumptuous food was delicious, such an atmosphere at breakfast had Gawain rather uncomfortable.
He preferred the atmosphere with a crowd surrounding the table, bustling with noise and excitement and not like how it was now, facing an old aristocrat with a long table between them, with a manner of wishing for time delay even when conversing with each other.
“I hope you’ve rested well in this old house,” Victor Kant cut the bread before him while saying.
“This castle is too old.
I intend to renovate it again in my remaining years.
” “It’s very comfortable here, more comfortable than I’d imagined,” Gawain praised slightly insincerely.
“The old castle gives one a sense of security.
” Victor smiled and looked to Gawain’s side.
“Your two personal attendants seemed to have left early in the morning?” “They’re not too used to restraints.
I had them go get some air in the town.
They would instead be more comfortable in a rowdy tavern.
In fact, I also preferred the taverns over this quiet castle in my younger days.
” The old Viscount lifted the wine glass in front of him.
“Of course, before you, I’m just a junior.
” Gawain lifted his glass in response and asked casually, “The Viscountess’s health is very worrying.
What specifically is she ill with?” .
Victor’s movement inconspicuously paused for a moment; a smile promptly hung on his face.
“You’ve already met her?” According to Lilith Kant, it should have been this old Viscount who arranged for her to go greet Gawain, but right now, Victor was acting like it was his first time learning about this! Gawain concealed his psychological changes and maintained a faint smile.
“After dinner yesterday, she came to greet me, but she looked really pale.
” “My pitiful Lilith,” Viscount Victor sighed.
“Her health has always been no good.
She cannot see sunlight, nor can she endure noise, such that she could only stay in the north tower in the long term and only come out to move about in the night.
But she’s a very kind person.
My lenient attitude toward my residents is in large part due to her influence —— she always urges me to give more consideration to the feelings of people who cannot afford to live in good houses and eat meat, yet her own health has been worsening.
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COM Viscount Kant’s benevolence and leniency toward his residents, this was something that Gawain had somewhat found out when he overheard some handymen in the castle chatting yesterday.
This was also one aspect which surprised him greatly —— he’d originally, with a preconceived idea, judged that Victor Kant was very possibly a heretic with the Eternal Sleepers, or at least already bewitched and controlled by that heretic cult believer.
Only for that reason would he commit something like capturing refugees for evil rituals, but he never would’ve expected that all the talk he’d heard after entering the Kant territory would be praises for this old feudal lord! He could not determine how much of the chats that he’d heard from the castle’s handymen were truths.
At this point, he could only go with the flow and carry on.
“Treating the residents well is the responsibility of every feudal lord.
Our aim in pioneering this kingdom at the beginning was to protect our people, and not lord over them and act as tyrants.
” “Yes, unfortunately there are few who still remember this.
” Victor’s sigh seemed to come from the bottom of his heart.
“More and more aristocrats have forgotten what the first time their ancestors raised their swords was for.
We were originally a barrier in protecting the civilians, the backing that allowed them to live with peace of mind, the guides that led them to walk towards abundance and warmth, but right now, the majority of aristocrats have grown up in castles and manors.
They take the service and worship of others for granted and have completely forgotten that they should still be responsible… Cough, cough…” Victor seemed to be slightly agitated from his speech and started coughing involuntarily.
When it finally subsided, he let out a long exhale.
“I have to spend a lot of time every year inspecting every farm and medicine field in the territory so as to get an exact grasp of the harvests that year and avoid letting the pressures of overly high taxes leave my residents hungry.
And I have to spend a lot of energy to go deal with merchants, to ensure that buyers are found for the territory’s surplus of herbs and rations.
This way, my residents would get enough money to repair their houses and purchase fuel to get through the winter.
However, I am therefore absent from many so-called ‘upper-class gatherings’ such that I am treated by those shallow aristocrats of the south as a weird person who dwells in deep seclusion, a mediocre person with bad taste… Sigh.
” Viscount Victor said a lot in one breath.
Only when he was done did he belatedly let out an embarrassed smile.
I tend to get talkative after getting on in my years, but I think you should be able to understand me ——because I heard that you, too, treat your residents very well.
” “Of course.
” Gawain lifted his glass with a smile.
“This is the duty of every feudal lord.
” … At the same time, in the town outside the castle, Amber was holding a cup of ale that was bubbling with foam — listening to those idle farmers and craftsmen boasting about their boring daily lives, pretending to look interested but planning at heart about how many more cups of ale she had to drink before she could manage to exchange for what she wanted to hear.
Farming had already ended; the weather wasn’t suited for any outdoor work; hence, all rich farmers and craftsmen who had some spare money would waste away their idle time in the taverns in town.
The Kant territory, like Tanzan Town, was one of the southern borders’ few prosperous territories; civilians living here naturally patronized places like taverns and casinos more frequently.
And for these people, it only took a few cups of ale and some flattery for Amber to milk out all their secrets.
For Amber who’d blended herself in such places growing up, this was a very pleasant process.
Especially when she didn’t even have to fork out the money for the ale herself, this feeling was even better.
She’d dressed in an outfit that suited her identity —— black leather armor and a slightly worn-out cape, together with the dagger at her waist that would pop out from time to time, and the ‘lucky stone’ tied on her wrist; the image of a vagrant warrior was complete, and civilians were in awe yet curious about such people, so getting information would become very easy.
After three rounds of drinks and enough talk about the farms and ghost stories inside the old residence, Amber felt that it was time to talk about the feudal lord; thus, she looked towards the local blacksmith seated at the table with a curious look.
“I heard your feudal lord is someone very good at governing the territory.
Is that true?” “I don’t know about governing the territory,” the blacksmith’s breath reeked of booze as he said with a glazed look.
“But Lord Victor is indeed a great, great person… Burp.
With him around, everyone gets to fill their stomachs and be half-full even in the winter.
It’s been ten-odd years since anyone has died of starvation in the territory!” Further south, there was another place where civilians not only didn’t starve to death, they could even get to eat meat occasionally.
Amber muttered to herself but wore admiration on her face.
“That’s remarkable!” “Exactly, Lord Victor is the most benevolent feudal lord I’ve ever met.
” Another old drinker took over.
“But I heard from the people who deliver vegetables and milk into the castle that the castle is pretty gloomy.
There is always a feeling that there was wind leaking in somewhere…” A slightly chubby tavern maidservant placed the wooden cup before the patron with a thud.
“Don’t spout nonsense! The castle isn’t your shabby thatched cottage.
Old George, who delivers the vegetables, was most likely drunk and thought he was in the castle when he was feeling the cold winds in the mud pit!” This plump maidservant made a joke that wasn’t funny, but it had the whole room roaring in laughter.
“Then it seems Victor is really a pretty good feudal lord,” Amber commented while wagging her head.
“Only, I wonder how’s the Viscountess——” Once this was said, the scene strangely went quiet for that one moment.
Some people looked at one another; some bowed their heads and drank, while the older people frowned as if something bad had come to mind.
Amber immediately realized that there was an inside story; thus, she questioned curiously, “What’s wrong? Why are all of you reacting this way?” “You’re a foreigner.
It’s normal that you don’t know about this,” an elderly man who appeared to be the oldest here spoke up.
He was probably a wealthy landowner or a retired craftsman; there were rarely elderly among the poor who yet to die of injuries and sickness, and such a person would not only understand civilian life but also have heard about matters of the feudal lord.
“The Viscountess… It’s probably been a few decades? When she died…” “The Viscountess is dead? She died decades ago?!” Amber was instantly shocked.
“How did she die?” “She’s a pitiful woman.
The entire incident was especially tragic.
That sort of thing shouldn’t have happened to a good person.
” The old man frowned; he seemed reluctant to say more, but the alcohol made it difficult to control his speech, and a youth beside them who didn’t know the past incident well also urged him to go on.
“Sir Sandro, tell the story.
I’ve heard people discuss this incident since a young age, but I’ve never learned of the complete story.
—— You’re old, so you should know what exactly happened then.
” Amber glanced at the youth who prompted him with considerable admiration and decided to buy the person a drink using the money Gawain had given her.
And this old man who seemed to have gone through the incident then sighed.
After taking a mouthful of ale, he slowly said, “That was thirty… about thirty years ago.
It could be longer too.
It was also during this month of the year, also raining, but the rain was especially heavy, and it had gone on for several days…” “At that time, Lord Victor was still young.
At that time, he was an impartial, benevolent feudal lord just like he is now.
Then, he was returning from inspecting the granary in the next town.
The Viscountess was with him, and their only son, Young Master Belm.
They rushed back in a carriage on the road from the west.
Although it was raining heavily, they still set out on the journey… They really ought to have stayed another day in the next town.
” “You can guess without me saying.
Such heavy rain, so slippery, a mishap was bound to happen.
——The carriage met with an accident at the old hillside.
It flipped, slipped, and fell into the mountain creek from the highest point of the hill.
The entire carriage was in pieces… A whole night passed, and no one knew the Viscount’s entire family had met with an accident outside until when the sun came up the next day.
When the rain stopped, the Viscountess appeared in the town, covered in blood… She’d practically crawled into the town, wounds all over, crying so hard that she almost couldn’t breathe.
She said she’d watched the Lord and Young Master get flung out of the carriage before her and landed in unknown spots and told us to quickly go save them.
At this point, the old man could not help sob a little, and he drank another mouthful of ale before he could go on.
“We escorted the Viscountess back to the castle, then immediately dispatched people to search for the whereabouts of the carriage, the Lord, and Young Master at the old hillside.
But for three whole days, other than some blood stains and broken pieces of the carriage, we only found the bodies of the two horses.
“The Viscountess bathed her cheeks in tears every day in the castle.
She was a kind, good person.
She’d always cared a lot for the poor people in the territory.
Since the day she married here, she would distribute firewood and rye bread to the poor every year, but she encountered such a thing.
For three whole days, her husband and son couldn’t be found, so she finally went mad.
According to the handyman who was working in the castle at that time, she locked herself in the room and screamed and shouted.
Then she ran to the various dark corners of the castle and spoke to the husband and son in her delusion.
Finally, she locked herself in the cellar of the castle’s north tower and drank poison there, ending her own agony.
“The fourth day, Lord Victor and Young Master Belm returned to the castle, alive.
They had not died.