Chapter 1: A Young Man Called Angor
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Grue Town, located in the province of Yamei.
As the Month of the Freezing Earth made its debut for the year, this remote little town far from the center of the Goldspink Empire suddenly welcomed a team of knights clad in silver armor, holding banners with a family emblem above their ranks.
Parsel, an old scholar living in the town, widened his eyes and began to shiver in cold sweat upon seeing the emblem on these banners – a python entangled around a full moon, with a fierce tiger stomping on its body.
Dim was the only blacksmith in town, and also a neighbor of Parsel. He noticed the unusual expression on Parsel’s face. Not putting down the hookah he had been smoking, he asked Parsel in wonder, “Hey old pal, look at you… You know where these riders come from?”
Taking a deep breath, Parsel whispered to Dim, “If my eyes do not fail me… That mark is the family emblem of the Morn Family.”
The Morns?! Dim could only look back at Parsel in shock.
“Are you absolutely sure?”
Without waiting for an answer, Dim jolted realizing something, and dashed into his small blacksmith shop, shutting the door like a coward.
Through the glass window of the shop, Parsel saw the trembling figure of Dim and shook his head. This nasty pair would normally joke about each other in a situation like this, but the Morn Family had visited Grue Town today out of the blue. Considering how powerful they were in the entire empire, Dim had all the reason to be terrified like this.
Parcel recalled hearing those rumors in the Hunter’s Pub back in the city.
The Morn Family had been called the backbone of Goldspink Empire. At least six great military generals emerged from it during the centuries after they earned unparalleled merit against several foreign invasions. Besides, none of the family members languished in the back during all those wars – every single one of them were brave and cunning warriors fighting on the front line. It was only natural that such a formidable and celebrated family had seized control of all military affairs in the empire.
Recently, military conflict was eminent between Goldspink Empire and its neighbor, the Heylan Imperials. The border of Heylan Imperials was not far from Grue Town. Perhaps, the knights of the Morns came just for this reason.
Parsel could think of two possible outcomes for their arrival. They either came to recruit, or set up defenses. Or maybe both.
However, either meant deadly news for Dim the blacksmith. For it was clearly written in the Law of Conscription of Goldspink Empire that every family in a city or town that fell within the area of the conscription had to provide a young adult, or offer a hundred gold pieces for a conscription-free token. Dim was the only able male in his family and at the prime age for recruitment. If he went away for war, his wife and daughter would have no means of survival. As for coins… The only family in the entire town that might have enough money for the fee was the Padt Family. Heck, one gold piece was enough to support Dim’s family for half a year.
Parsel got out of his shock quick enough. Anyway, an old bachelor like him had nothing to worry about. He’d kick the bucket soon enough. He even had the mind to watch the Morn Family make their move.
They did not go to the town mayor. So they’re not here to recruit?
Parsel kept watching as the iron hooves headed towards another direction…
Towards the mansion of Viscount Padtr, a place that still bloomed with grass and flowers even in the Month of Freezing Earth.
The Padt Manor.
A pair of maids wearing cream-colored linen headscarves were chattering during their work.
They were talking about the two young sons of the Padt Family.
“Master and mistress passed away two years ago. According to the law of the empire, in the Month of Frost following this Month of Freezing Earth, the eldest master will inherit the family title,” the maid with an apple-shaped face said with a hint of worry. “I wonder what will become of the young master after that.”
“Auri, let’s not talk about the family business as servants. Personally though, I don’t think you should worry about it at all. You probably don’t know because you were working at the tea garden far from the mansion, but the two masters are quite close to each other. Those family conflicts you read about in the drama books won’t happen here,” the maid with a pockmarked face giggled.
The sound of horse hooves came from the narrow trail outside of the garden.
Soon, a rider wearing shining bronze armor appeared in front of the maids.
He halted his horse at the garden entrance and removed his helmet.
He was a vigorous young man with brown hair. The sunlight somewhat deepened the lines and curves on his face, giving the already handsome man an even more extraordinary look.
Those grey-green irises swept past the maids and finally fixed on the middle-aged maid standing beside Auri.
“Greetings to you, Head Maid Mana.”
Mana dropped the basket she had been holding and bowed to the knight. “Greetings, Master Leon.”
Leon looked at the freshly-picked tea leaves in the basket and sighed. “My brother went to that old man again?”
Mana lowered her head and replied with courtesy, “Master Angor went to study at Mister Jon’s.”
Leon twitched his lip and muttered to himself, “Study? What the heck’s going on with that old geezer, talking about his fallacy all day? Now, Brother learns from him and gives him tea too. That man’s just a psycho! I have no idea why brother insists on going there.”
He pulled on the reins in annoyance. “I see. You can continue with your work, I’ll go look for him.”
With that, Leon gave his horse a soft kick and trotted away.
A while later, Leon came to the southeast corner of the manor where an exquisitely designed wooden house supported by suspension stilts sat on a small hill near the woods. It has raising eaves and two parallel levels. Only one side of the house actually touched the earth, the other three stayed in the air, merely supported by stilt pillars.
No matter how you looked at it, this wooden house didn’t sit well among any of the structures in Goldspink Empire. Leon couldn’t even recall seeing such similar buildings during his travels in the other nations.
“What a curious house. It looks sturdy though most of it doesn’t have solid ground.” Leon was still frustrated about how the old man occupied too much of his brother’s time, but that didn’t stop him from admiring the amazing craftsmanship of the structure… He just didn’t show that on his face. Besides, it’s the house that Leon was interested in, not Jon himself. Maybe this was a common sight from where Jon came? Although Leon never figured out where that was even when Jon had been living in the Padt Manor for nearly 20 years.
Pushing open the wooden bars, Leon saw some vegetables and fruits growing in the yard. There were some withered vines crawling on the racks nearby. They grew “hanging clusters” in the Month of Harvest, and Jon called them “grapes”. Leon remembered their sweet taste. However, it was currently off season.
Behind the bamboo door of the house was a young man with a handsome look swiftly writing something on parchment rolls using his quill and ink.
Leon approached him. He tried to be soft on his steps, but those bronze armored boots still produced a heavy noise on the wooden floor.
“Ah, you’re here.” The young man put a period on the parchment and looked up at the visitor, his clear voice filled with friendly passion.
“Angor! My dear brother. You sound as if you knew I would come.” Leon smiled.
Angor shrugged and grinned, “No. But this will make me more… proactive.”
“You learned this from that old man too?”
Angor shook his head. “No one needs to teach me that. Our father used to talk like this anyway.”
“So… If someone misinterprets your will and doesn’t talk at all, how would you start the conversation then?” Leon raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll just stay silent and wait for it.”
“What if that man does the same?”
Angor curled his lip. “That would be embarrassing. I think I’ll turn to leave, lest I get embarrassed and continue whatever there is if he decides to stop me.”
Leon only smiled and nodded without giving any comment. He then looked around the room.
“Where’s good old Jon?”
Hearing this, Angor frowned a little and showed a bit of worry. “You know, Teacher’s body is getting worse by the day, every part of him is… wilting. His legs completely gave in the day before yesterday. He just applied his medicine and is now resting upstairs.”