Chapter 321 The Law of Border Town
Early in the morning, the cold woke Roland up. He climbed out from under his cold blanket, put on his wool coat, then immersed his feet into the warm water bucket.
This was one of the corrupting privileges which he could only enjoy as a Prince – every morning, a maid would put out a basin of hot water beside his bed, as well as a clean towel and a cup of warm milk which would warm up his body almost instantly.
Of course, compared to the powerful nobles who had other methods to constantly keep their beds warm, he felt that this was good enough. The former 4th Prince had always attempted to invite Tyre over with exactly that thought in mind, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to enjoy it before his death. However, the new Roland didn’t enjoy this practice, so when the position become vacant he had filled it with an elderly but experienced maid instead. In fact, this choice proved to be the right one. Since nowadays there were so many witches staying inside the castle, but she still managed to keep the inside and outside of the castle in good order.
The fire in the fireplace had gone out long before, leaving only white flying ashes behind. Through the cracks in the open window, the cold wind blew into the room, it was so bone-chillingly cold that it was hard to believe that it was still autumn. Roland dried his feet, then washed the rest of his body with another tub of hot water before going over to the window and closing the small gap he had opened through the night.
Even though open fireplaces were very common in this era, he was still worried about the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning and thus he always left a small gap open before he went to bed. This way, with the fire burning the temperature could be kept all the way through the first half of the night, but, after the fire went out there was no difference between the temperature inside and outside when morning came.
I have to come up with an idea to solve this problem, Roland thought, or I won’t be able to sleep in the future.
After eating breakfast, Roland took Nightingale, his Chief Knight, and his personal guards on a routine inspection of the city walls.
The vast expanse of grass between the new city wall and the old city has become a vast expanse of white. As they walked over all the thick snow the soles of their shoes made crunching noises.
Lifting his head, he saw a pale gray sky and falling snowflakes that occasionally came floating into the gap between his coat and his neck, bringing with it traces of coldness. He knew that it was very likely that this kind of weather would continue until spring next year… or it might even be longer.
“How is the situation at the defense line?”
“It’s much better than the last time,” Carter Lannis said, looking relaxed, “Most soldiers of the First Army have already gathered experience on the battlefield. Furthermore, now that we have these revolving rifles, ten guards are already enough to protect about one hundred meters of the city wall, and suppress all the demonic beasts that appear at the feet of the wall. In addition, compared to the old stone wall, the new wall is about half a meter higher, which is a height that is very difficult for a wolf to reach. Due to this, the defense has turned into mere shooting practice for the soldiers. As long as no mixed species appear these monsters won’t ever be able to step one foot past the defense line.”
“It seems everything is well.”
As Roland boarded the wall, all the soldiers he came across gave him a salute, standing straight with their head held high and their chest out. Just by looking at their spirits, it was already clear that the soldiers had completely changed from the time they spent as part of the militia. At that time, although they stood side by side on the wall, seemingly uniformly stabbing with their pike, it was in truth nothing more than a conditioned reflex formed after repeated training. The expression in their eyes was war numb, their movements were all stiff, and when someone took a closer look they would immediately see that most of them were trembling slightly.
But the soldier’s eyes at this moment were brimming with self-confidence. After going through the ceremony, they immediately turned around and continued to monitor the battlefield.
Walking along the city wall toward the Concealing Forest, the area became much livelier.
The temporary shelters for the serfs and refugees was arranged within this area. When Roland looked down from the top of the wall, it seems as if many slopes were arranged in lines parallel to the wall, looking like upward and downwards moving waves. Each of those slopes offered a place for ten rooms, with an inner structure that was identical to that of a cave. The thick walls were able to maintain the indoor temperature, while the kang heated the room and a linen cover at the entry kept the cold out.
The whole area was divided into two blocks, the one close to the wall was called the West Side and was used to shelter the refugees; while the East Side set further away from the wall has been assigned to the serfs.
Every day the City Hall would send out people to distribute food and charcoal, while the refugees had to take over the task of delivering for the soldiers of the First Army who were protecting the walls. As for the serfs, most of them had all the wheat they needed. With the exception of some people who went out to look for a job to earn some extra money, the others all rarely left their warm houses.
At this moment, suddenly a fierce argument broke out at the junction between the East and West side. When Roland became aware of it he went over and saw a group of people standing in the middle of the road that passed through the residential area that were bust arguing out loud. One of them wore a blue and white uniform and seemed to be a clerk who worked in City Hall. It didn’t take long for the verbal quarrel to escalate into a fight, both sides began to push each other and strike one another, turning the whole scene into a mess.
“Your Highness,” Carter asked.
“Let’s go take a look,” Roland agreed.
When they reached the place where the disruption was happening the chief knight took the lead and went straight into the fighting crowd, immediately knocking down two or three of the trouble makers. And as Roland’s personal guards, having already drawn their swords shouted out for everyone to stop, the scene soon fell back under control.
Discovering that the newly arrived people were actually the Lord’s men, the two quarreling sides fell immediately on their knees just like breaking waves.
“What is your name?” Roland frowned as he asked the clerk who had two punch marks on his face, “What’s going on here? Who attacked you first?”
“Your Highness, my name is Khoya Harvie,” he cried and hid his face with his hands. “It was that damned refugee who hit me first, it’s the man dressed in brown linen! I was still busy distributing food when he rushed up to me like a dog who’d gone mad.”
Hearing Khoya’s words and after being pointed out, the man wearing refugee clothes turned and said, “Your Highness, things didn’t happen as he described it. These people and the serfs conspired to blackmail us. Every time they distribute porridge they collect money, but, at the time you took us in you clearly told us that it would be free!”
Hearing him speak left Roland slightly surprised. All of the refugees who had come from the east coast had been combed through by the City Hall; they’d already sorted out all of the craftsmen, people with special abilities, or those who were literate. Those were moved to the inner circle, so the remaining people here should supposedly be ordinary civilians. But judging by his tone of voice and his choice of words it didn’t resemble a civilian at all.
In contrast, it was the man from the city hall who had used words like ‘damned dog’ and other insults, which left a really disappointing appearance. Since he had a well-known family name… in all likelihood, he was one of Duke Ryan’s former people.
“I have said that before you are officially incorporated into Border Town the porridge and shelter will all be free of charge,” Roland repeated once again in front of the refugees. “Today, those words are still valid!”
“His Highness is merciful!”
“Long live the Lord!”
“Thank you, Your Highness!”
The refugees began to shout while kowtowing.
But at the same time, Khoya Harvie’s face turned livid.
“However, fights within the inner territory resulting in injuries are a violation of the law. In particular, attacking a member of the City Hall,” Roland said, then ordered his personal guards, “Take all the refugees and serfs who started the fight and bring them to the castle, I will personally try this fight.”
He paused, and then looked at Khoya with interest, “I would also like to ask you about this matter of charging for the porridge.”