Chapter 214 The travel to King’s City
The merchant fleet followed a branch of the Redwater River on its way north and after passing Silver City entered into the Grand Canal to King’s City.
Theo remembered that he had once read in the “Chronicles of Graycastle” that two hundred years ago, everything around here had been a wasteland. In order to transport the mined silver in the nearby mines back to King’s City, Wimbledon I had summoned stonemasons and nearly ten thousand handymen. After 20 time-consuming years spent digging, they finally opened a direct connection between the silver mines and King’s City. However, during the construction process a new city had also gradually formed itself around the silver mines, which was then later named Silver City by the late king.
But the scene that unfolded itself in front of him was completely different from the view of 200 years ago; this was no longer a wasteland. Instead, both sides had now been covered with lush farmland, that slowly transformed itself into a village. Seeing this scene made Theo think of the Kingdom Avenue which connected Border Town and Longsong Stronghold. When that road was finished, he believed that the surroundings hills would also become more densely populated.
“I heard you that you have previously already lived in King’s City?” Suddenly a woman’s voice sounded from behind him.
When Theo turned his head, he saw that the voice belonged to Margaret, the owner of the caravan, he nodded, “Before I became a palace guard, I have been living in the inner city.”
“How do you feel about returning to your old home?”
“Honestly speaking, not bad,” he said, “if it were not for the order of His Royal Highness, I’d rather stay in Border Town. Although King’s City seems to be such a lively place, it makes people develop a suffocating feeling living there.” Which is particularly the case because of the lower nobility, Theo thought.
“Is that so?” Margaret smiled, “how much do you know about His Highness Roland?”
“What’s going on?” Hearing this question let his heart slightly shiver with cold.
“I think he is really an incredible person. Of course, many bad rumors are flowing around in King’s City, you also should have heard a lot of them. However, in Border Town… it is nothing like those rumors said, his behavior and ideas are unpredictable,” she paused, “If the steam engine was accomplished through his knowledge and skills, why then, are even the soldiers trained by him so out of the ordinary?”
Speaking of the First Army, Theo glanced in the direction of the soldiers who were sitting on the deck – taking into account that their activities in King’s City had to be hidden as much as was possible; they were not equipped with guns, nor were they wearing a unified military uniform. Instead, their armor had been replaced with all sorts of different leather armors, and the only weapons they carried were the wooden spears on their back, they looked just any other caravan guard. For most of them, it was the first time that they were away from the Western Territory, and because of this, they were all curiously looking around and talked with each other about what they saw, but no one had yet taken off his shoes or laid down on their arms.
On the other hand, the mercenaries of the caravan, to avoid the sun many of them had left the deck and went into the cabin, leaving only three or four people behind on the deck who in turn have taken off their shoes and laid flat in the shade with their hands stretched out beside their body.
“I am not quite clear,” Theo reluctantly answered. It wasn’t that he was trying to hide something, it was simply that he didn’t know the answer – after coming to Border Town, the 4th Prince had become very different compared to his former self, “Probably His Royal Highness from before was just a disguise.”
“Is it…?” Margaret said nothing more, keeping silent for a moment and then she suddenly reached out with her hand and pointed in the distance. “Look, that’s the city wall. We will be arriving soon.”
At the end of his field of vision he could make out a fuzzy natural gray, just by standing here and looking, he could already feel the magnificence of the city walls – the city walls were the most outstanding work of the stonemason guild before they were dissolved. Both its height and thickness were second to none in the Kingdom of Graycastle. He had even heard that the walls had rooms and channels that offered places for nearly a thousand soldiers to rest. Making it possible to guarantee an uninterrupted patrol and fast support.
When the walls became clear for Theo to see, the figures of the fugitives also entered his field of vision.
A large number of civilians had gathered in the outskirts of King’s City. They had built simple sheds along the walls. In front of those sheds, many fires were burning, sending white smoke into the air, they were all seemingly boiling rice porridge. For now, these people had not yet run out of food, and their facial expressions were also still good. But King’s City would certainly not support them with free food forever, as soon as the aristocrats had selected their workforce, they would send their troops to drive these people away.
“How do you plan to go through with your task?” Margaret asked curiously, “Will you sent out the soldiers given to you by His Highness to pull the people in by propaganda?”
“No, such a plan would have a low efficiency. Moreover, it would be very easy to come to the unwanted attention of others,” Theo shook his head. “If you want to get something done in King’s City you either bribe an official or hire the rats, about this you should already have a profound understanding of.
“Sure,” she laughed, “I wanted to help you with one or two words, but it seems it is unnecessary. So, if there is a need for money, just come to me.” Margaret handed him a sign, “As long as you reveal this, one of my shop managers will immediately contact me. Of course, everything under 100 gold royals can be directly taken.”
“Thank you.” Theo took the token – it was a deep red stone, engraved with some lines he had never seen before.
“There is no need to be so polite,” she chuckled. “The money will be repaid to me by His Highness, with interest.”
After arriving at the canal’s pier, Theo ordered the soldiers of the First Army to stay on the outskirts and wait for news of him. Their only current task was to avoid the sight of King’s City patrols as well as they could, while Theo himself entered the city together with the caravan. At the gate, he noted that the inspection of the guards had become a lot stricter than before. Apparently, they didn’t want any of the fugitives, who were able to escape from the East to enter the city.
After entering the city, the first thing that came to his eyes was a row of towering gallows.
Hanging on them were four women with their hands tied on their back, releasing an awful stench due to their expose to the scorching sun. Seeing such a scene let Theo immediately frown.
“Timothy is performing witch hunts in the city, and they are the unfortunates who get caught,” Margaret sighed, “but that is not accurate, of some of the witches the nobility just got bored, they just took advantage of this opportunity. It’s hard to say what is better, continuing to be imprisoned in a dark room without light, or being freed from the pain as soon as possible… No matter what, I wish for them that they can rest in peace.”
During the last half year at Border Town, Theo had realized that witches were not as unforgivable as the Church had preached and that except for their strange abilities, there was no difference between them and ordinary people. Looking at the bodies of the women hanging on the gallows he could determine that the smallest had only been around fourteen to fifteen-years-old. When he realised this, it suddenly felt like as if his heart was being pressed together, immediately returning the suffocating feeling.
Apart from the refugees outside of King’s City, little else had changed within half a year. Beside the main road which led to the city gate, that was paved with blue stones, all the other side roads and alleys were made out of mud. Now, under the hot summer sun the ground was covered with cracks, and whenever a carriage passed by a burst of yellow dust would rise up from it. It was hard to imagine that the capital city of the kingdom unexpectedly was outdone by the municipal constructions of a desolated small town just outside of the western border.
After crossing two streets, in one line the caravan entered the market area. Instead of following, Theo waved goodbye to Margaret and turned walking on his own into an alley.
Arriving at the familiar entrance of the “Covert Trumpeter” tavern, he immediately pushed the door open and went inside.
“Hey! The tavern will only open at night!” Someone shouted.
Theo ignored them and directly went to the bar, facing the strong man who busied himself with earnestly wiping a wine glass: “Still remember me?”
“From under which stone did you jump up grasshopper, didn’t you hear that the pub only opens at night?” He impatiently put down the glass, raised his gloomy face, while two waiters also came over to encircle him, stopping their table and chair arranging, “Now I will count till three – Th-Sir Theo?
“It’s me,” Theo spat to the side. “I have a good business deal I want to offer you.”