LTBE - Chapter 408: True Love Overcomes Everything! (1)
It was starting to get colder in the Ascart Fiefdom as autumn deepened.
Farmers started to get busy, and merchants urged their distributors to hasten the transportation of goods so that supplies could arrive before the onset of winter. The number of carriages and patrolling soldiers on the road significantly increased, but it was worth noting that most people had smiles on their faces.
The farmers had a bountiful harvest this year, and the proxy fief lord, Roel, had reduced their taxes. Many merchants were also able to make more trips and maximize their profits thanks to the increased efficiency in the accounting system.
As for the soldiers, the improved financial condition of the Ascart Fiefdom had allowed for greater benefits for them, most notably, a raise in their salaries.
All of these translated to increased prestige for the Ascarts. There was no need for the Ascarts to spread word of their deeds at all; the populace could see the improvements that were being made to their lives themselves.
As such, when they learned that their proxy fief lord, Roel, was about to return from his studies, the civilians living in the vicinity of Ascart City immediately rushed to the city with excited smiles on their faces.
Just a few days back, an explosive piece of news reached their ears. They learned that Roel had clinched the champion trophy in the Challenger Cup. This was indubitably a huge affair. Even when the Ascart Fiefdom was a long distance away from the Country of Scholars, most civilians were still aware of the prestigious centuries old tournament and the significance of it.
All of a sudden, Roel’s standing rose from just the proxy fief lord of the Ascart Fiefdom to the hero of the people. Under the leadership of the Ascarts’ manor, the entire city began making preparations to welcome Roel back home.
Dense crowds filled up both sides of elaborately decorated streets, leaving Roel wondering if he had stumbled upon some festival when his carriage first arrived at the city. It was only at Anna’s explanation—she had been patiently waiting at the entrance of the city for Roel’s return—that he realized that this fanfare was prepared just for him.
“As much as I appreciate the sentiment, there’s no need to make such a huge fuss over this. We shouldn’t disturb the people for our own personal reasons.”
“You’ve misunderstood, young master. While the celebration was planned by our Ascarts’ manor, the people chose to come here on their own accord. They wish to welcome you from the bottom of their hearts.”
“Still, this causes a huge disruption to the traffic and trade…”
“We made sure to announce the celebration a month in advance so that businesses can make preparations in advance. The celebration was also carefully planned to minimize disruptions on major routes. On top of that, we have also expanded the city gates according to your blueprints so merchants can access the city through the side gate should there be any emergency situations.”
“… I see.”
Roel nodded in response. He first looked at the crowd around him before stepping out of his carriage and leaping to its top. He waved at his people, and his people responded with excited cheers. Looking at the smiles on the faces around him, he felt like the fatigue he had built up over the month’s travel was completely swept away.
He was heartened.
The people were no fools. Even if they couldn’t fully comprehend what Roel was doing, they could still sense gradual improvements in their lives, and that resulted in increased support for him. Everything he had done wasn’t in vain.
Under the warm welcome of the crowd, Roel soon arrived at the Ascarts’ manor. Watching as the servants opened the gates, he suddenly felt a sense of liberation striking him.
Over the past month, due to the huge procession formed by the convergence of the Ascarts and Sorofyas’ convoys, they didn’t meet with any danger along the way. However, within the procession itself, Roel faced an endless onslaught of problems created by Alicia and Charlotte.
Unable to compete with Charlotte under the grounds of legitimacy, Alicia had no choice but to make a tactical retreat and resort to defensive measures. Charlotte made use of this opportunity to begin her assault, resulting in a constant bustle in Roel’s carriage.
Be it meal time, rest time, tea time, or card time, the two women were constantly competing with each other in the first half of the journey. Roel had hardly any private time to himself, and mediating between them left him utterly exhausted.
In the end, perhaps sensing that their competition wasn’t doing anyone a favor, they eventually decided to sign a ceasefire agreement and enjoy the latter half of the journey. Things got much better after that.
Roel even spared two days to hunt together with them, though the process left him rather speechless.
Anyone who had hunted before would know that it was an activity that required a diverse array of skills, be it discerning an animal’s trails, tracking it, or taking it down. It could be described as a battle of wits, such that some hunters even considered it an artform.
Yet, when it came to the two ladies, hunting became trivialized. Charlotte tossed a coin with closed eyes to determine the location of the hunt whereas Alicia released silver birds that combed through the forest to search for prey. Then, they would take down their prey with a simple burst of magic each time around.
Hunting was supposed to be a fight against the wild, filled with passion and hot-bloodedness. Yet, there was zero excitement and tension, almost like a streamlined hunting operation.
Roel had no idea what to make of this at all. It was clear to him that the two young ladies couldn’t understand a man’s romance toward hunting. Nevertheless, when the two of them approached him to showcase their accomplishments, he still offered them compliments.
He wasn’t surprised by their hunting competency, but the guards were completely amazed by the abilities they had displayed. The hunts filled the two convoys with a joyous atmosphere as they began making preparations for a feast.
Such harmonious warmth continued till a few days ago, when they finally reached a crossroad near the Ascart Fiefdom’s southern border. Roel and Charlotte had no choice but to reluctantly part ways.
Charlotte had wanted to accompany Roel into the Ascart Fiefdom, but she received a letter from her family urging her return. The arrival of the letter initially confused them, but Charlotte soon thought of something. She first assured Roel that everything was alright before quickly taking her leave.
Roel was concerned, but he chose not to probe too deeply into it.
Charlotte was the successor of the Sorofyas, so she was bound to have many troubles of her own. It was already a miracle how she was able to spare so much time to accompany him. Besides, she was on close terms with her family, so she would want to spend time with them over the holidays too.
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It was the same for Roel too.
When he was still a week’s journey away from the Ascart Fiefdom, he dispatched an envoy to inform Carter of his return. Both Carter and him were often busy and had hardly any time for each other; this holiday was a rare opportunity for them to catch up.