When he finally arrived at the western bank, Shaar was once again stunned as he stood before the bridge that was tens of metres wide!
Two towers were built at the head of the bridge with empire foot soldiers based within. From their shiny armour and weapons, they were adequately equipped, for their physiques were also tall and muscular. The wide bridge was already filled with people and horse carriages, the bridge laid with huge rectangular stone tiles. Round stone pillars lined the side of the bridge, along with more stone bricks to block off the edge.
The trading party displayed their travel documents to the soldiers, then slowly travelled forward among the crowd. Shaar got to observe the scenery on both sides during this time. He could see the wide manmade river on both sides, while the bridge was a tall arch several metres above the river surface. This bridge was supported by more than ten gigantic stone pillars built on the river.
The waters were emerald green, directed from the sea and there were even tiny boats travelling up and down the river. From the flags displayed on them, they were military patrol boats.
Far away, the silhouettes of other bridges and gates were faintly visible but enough to garner amazement.
When Shaar crossed the bridge and stood before Triumph Gates, he sighed once again-- although his tolerance was already raised from witnessing so many astonishing sights, the hillbilly was stunned.
Three archways made up the Triumph Gates, the centre hole was fifty metres tall. One would even feel as if this tall entrance was not made for humans at all, but for some legendary heavenly deity.
Every stone was cut to exact measurements to be stacked into neat round arches, there was not a single flaw!
Above the gates, four pavilion towers extended through the clouds with all kinds of flags flapping in the wind, as well as two sub-towers attached protruding out of the wall. All these ensured that the wall would turn into an impenetrable military fortress as quickly as possible during war!
"A legendary Byzantine general once said, 'even if you give me an army of a million troops, plus unlimited support troops, attacking this grand city would still be a nightmare!" whispered Gu Luo, sighing.
Shaar's chest clenched, turning to look at the fat man.
At this moment, Shaar, who had just ridden through the Triumph Gates on his horse, heard a familiar voice.
"Aha! You little hillbilly, I have waited way too long! You're finally here!"
Shaar looked up to see that not far away, to his left, there were several warriors in light armour standing amidst the crowd. Sandwiched amongst them was a fat man with a protruding gut, a peculiar grin plastered on his chubby face. He was laughing heartily when he saw Shaar on the street.
"General Ruhr!" Shaar immediately leapt off his horse and squeezed through the crowd to rush over. Ruhr grabbed Shaar by his shoulder and punched his chest jokingly, "Damn, how dare you take so long! I was so worried!"
Shaar took a good look at Ruhr. He was wearing a light warrior's robes popular with aristocrats, a huge ruby ring on his finger and leather shoes shined to perfection. He looked exactly like a rich man out for a walk.
Ruhr glanched at the Lantis and Wolf Fang warrior groups and the Rabbit General knitted his brows, "Lantis people? Why are you hanging out with pirates..."
Shaar grinned. "I met them along the way... Hmm, look at you, you look great! A lot fatter than when we last met. "
Ruhr's face fell and gave a solid 'ptui'. Pulling Shaar aside, he whispered, "Damn it! I haven't been able to eat well recently, this anxiety is killing me! I have had the worst luck! After I returned to the capital, the military issued a command that scared me to death!"
"I, General Ruhr!" Ruhr puffed his chest up with a fierce look on his face, "have been resigned as the general of the Sixth Army! They ordered for me to be reassigned to another cavalry! My new position is... is... is the freaking general of the Thirteenth Cavalry Army! Do you hear me? Kid! I am now your boss, I'll be the new leader, which means... I'm the new chief of the Rhodelia Cavalry Army!"
Shaar was stunned, his expression turning strange as he suppressed the urge to react dramatically to this. His voice hoarse, he forced his reply through his gritted teeth, "You... you mean, you've replaced General Adrick? You..."
The fat man's arrogant face fell immediately as he scratched the flubber on his face exasperatedly, "I don't know if there's something wrong with them either! They call me the Rabbit General! How could they ask me to lead the Thirteenth Cavalry?!"
"Rabbit... General... A bunch of lions..." Shaar rolled his eyes.
He immediately thought of something. "Then... what happened to General Adrick?"
"Him?" Ruhr cursed in a low voice. "Your previous boss is in deep trouble this time..."
Shaar's eyes widened but Ruhr hurriedly stopped him, "Don't panic! He was promoted! He's now the Vice Minister of Defense! He's now number two amongst the entire military in terms of ranking."
"Promoted?" Shaar did not know why this meant trouble but he was no longer worried. Grinning, he placed his focus on Ruhr again, "Ah, this means you're now my boss! But I'm still confused, can you... lead the Thirteenth Cavalry? You're great at running, but as for war..."
Ruhr raged, glaring daggers at Shaar, "Shut your mouth! I'm now your boss! I'll fire you and send you to the labour camps!"
But the fat man then sighed and whispered after taking a look at Shaar, "This is also why I was so anxious to see you... Hmmph, I knew you would enter through the Triumph Gates because people always do that on their first visit to Osgiliath."
After a pause, the Rabbit General sighed. "I am willing to be your boss but it looks like you won't be able to stay in the Thirteenth Cavalry for long."
"..." Shaar did not know what to say.
Privately, he was disgruntled--- while he did not feel any sense of belonging to this empire, he did feel a sense of camaraderie with his brothers at the Thirteenth. If they told him to serve the empire in another cavalry? I would never!
I'm going to go home and become a hunter if they assign me to another cavalry.
Ruhr was smart and also familiar with Shaar's temper. He knew exactly what the kid was thinking the moment his eyebrows raised and quickly calmed him, "This doesn't mean anything bad. Let's talk about this later. You should bid your mates farewell first, then go back with me. Then we shall iron out the details."
Shaar knew that the bustling street was not a good place to talk either so he returned to talk to Gu Luo, who bowed. "Lord Shaar, it has been an honour to travel with you. No matter what, never forget that you have a friend named Gu Luo here. Hehe, we will be going to the trading point soon. If you have time, please stay and but if you leave, send someone with a message to me. After a journey together, I would consider us to be friends."
Shaar agreed graciously and Gu Luo gave him the trading group's address. He did not actually have to since the group was very famous, Shaar could ask just about anyone.
After Gu Luo's group left, Alfred Carter stepped forward and said, "Lord Shaar, we'll go register at the tournament first, then look for a place to stay. If everything goes well, we will be staying at the Old Lighttower Motel on the southside of the city. This motel is famous at the pier, you can send a messenger for me anytime."
Shaar nodded and memorised the address. "Alright, you may go. After I settle down here, I will send someone to keep you updated."
The Lantis and Wolf Fang warriors left. General Ruhr had been standing far away during these conversations- he was a high-level general and an aristocrat, naturally he put on airs here.
After these people left, General Ruhr led Shaar off on his horse.
"Kid, let me tell you this. Your current situation is a little tricky," explained Ruhr impatiently, "the emperor has issued an order that you must meet him the moment you arrive! His Majesty wants to see you personally... I can't tell if this is a good thing... Uh, let's hope it's good news. You killed that pretty-faced Bonfret, you still have to be careful of the Crown Prince when you enter the palace. But I heard that he's living in the castle in the east, perhaps you won't meet him."
He paused. Ruhr frowned when he saw Shaar's look of nonchalance, "These aren't important but there's one very important thing... Someone sent a messenger to tell me that you must meet him. He wants to take a good look at you."
"Who? Who is it?"
"Calve Hill." When the fat man mentioned this name, he shuddered, looking frightened. He lowered his voice and warned sternly, "Kid, you'd better listen to me! Even if you anger the emperor, the Crown Prince or some general in the military, you're still somewhat protected by your past contributions. But as for this Calve Hill... you must be extra careful!"
"Oh? Who's this guy? Is he very scary?"
The fat man hesitated, looking left and right as if he was afraid of something, terrified that someone was eavesdropping and his words would reach Calve Hill's ears.
"It's not up to me to decide if he's scary. Hmm, I'll tell you this," the fat man whispered with a stern look, "many people in the capital hate this Calve Hill, including royals, church members, military men, Elders... Yet, he is still alive after so many decades. And he looks healthier than ever." The fat man paused deliberately, then continued, "But everyone he ever targeted all ended up dead, buried on Mount Glory! No exceptions!"
Mount Glory... Shaar thought he had heard of this name before. He recalled that it was the largest graveyard outside Osgiliath!
Mulling over the fat man's words, Shaar's expression grew solemn too.
"So who is this guy? Why does he want to meet me?"
The fat general briefly introduced Calve Hill's identity.
"Oh? The emperor's most trusted advisor?" Shaar furrowed his brows. "Why does he want to see me? I'm nobody. Even if I made some contributions to the empire, that's got nothing to do with him."
"That's what I'm worried about." Ruhr looked concerned. "It's best you've got nothing to do with him, everyone who got involved with him had the worst luck."
The fat man wiped his sweat. "This man is in his fifties- his wife died a long time ago, his son and daughter died, even all his relatives and friends died! I suspect anyone who gets involved with him will be cursed! Even our emperor... Because they're friends, that's why His Majesty is chronically ill, his only son became... became a rabbit! It's awful."
"What?!" Shaar paled. "He's an unlucky star then!"
Shaar looked at Ruhr. "This... this unlucky star... ugh, when does this Calve Hill want to see me?"
"...Now." The fat man sighed, then pointed at the path ahead. "This path leads to Calve Hill's house. His messenger said that you must meet him immediately after you arrive!"
Shaar raged. "You stupid fat man! Why did you wait to tell me?! Oh my goodness... NO! I must prepare myself if I'm meeting such a dangerous man! You, how dare you..."
"I'm so sorry, brother." The fat man wiped his sweat. "I did not dare refuse Calve Hill's request. I don't want him to target me. I'm in my peak years, I'm not ready to die yet."