Tia was in the courtyard, reproaching her husband as he stood at the side with his head down. "How could you feed the horse rotten potatoes and rice that have been left there for who knows how long?"
"It's just a farm animal. How would I know that it is so pampered?" argued Locke Senior.
"Does it look like a donkey to you?" Tia raised her voice and stood with her arms akimbo after he talked back to her.
Locke remained silent and twitched his lips. Livestock like cows and pigs in his village literally ate everything. They would even eat rotten grass and dry barks, not to mention spoiled food. But they were domestic animals; warhorses were different.
As far as Locke knew, his horse was usually taken care of by a professional stableman whom the baron had hired. Its meal consisted of a mix of wheat and soybeans, which were better than some of the soldiers' meals in the army. The value of the horse itself and the cost of taking care of these warhorses weren't cheap at all.
Only Cardoj, who was supported by De Sandro, could afford to raise a cavalry platoon. Few among barons and even viscounts could form a group of cavalrymen.
"It's okay, I'll get someone to look after it. It won't die." Locke defused the argument between both of them.
"They won't ask for compensation, right?" whispered Locke Senior as he dragged Locke to one side.
"No!" Locke laughed. The horse only had an upset stomach and wasn't injured severely. It wasn't necessary for him to find someone to look after it since it would probably recover by night-time. Every horse that survived on the battlefield had strong vitality, and Locke's horse was one of the best among the others.
He couldn't ride his horse to town and he was too lazy to walk. His mission was completed as well anyway, so he just waited in the village for Hans and the others' return.
Hans, Caen, and the other Maple Village soldiers finally came back in the afternoon.
"How was it? Have Yoshk and the others returned to town as well?" asked Locke.
"Yes!" replied Hans.
Caen complained, "Our opponents were rubbish. I wasn't even using my full strength, and they were already knocked to the ground."
"Yeah. My brother strangled the Boulder Brothers to death with one hand." Hank's tone was similar to Caen's, probably because he'd been following Caen around for a long time.
"What about you? Did you gain anything?" Locke asked Hank amusedly.
Hank turned shy. He thought for a long time and said, "No, my brother and the others have knocked all of them down before it was my turn to fight."
Everyone around him started laughing.
It wasn't because he didn't have the chance to fight, but it was because the others didn't allow him to do so.
Hans was very protective of his brother. Hank was only in the army for a few months and he'd never participated in a proper battle before. Hans wouldn't let him be at risk.
On the other hand, Hank didn't dare to risk his life and fight with the bandits. Apart from being a smooth-talker, he was rather timid. Even so, he didn't need to be brave as a scout, so Caen didn't give up on providing him guidance just because he had minor flaws.
The Quarryton soldiers didn't suffer any losses in this operation. Only about a dozen soldiers were slightly injured due to their carelessness. Only the civilians in Quarryton who'd never witnessed a war before considered those minor injuries severe. The scratches on one of the veteran's arm meant nothing to him.
These three gangs of bandits were the largest gangs around Quarryton. The soldiers who'd just returned had wiped out all of them in just one day and a half, and it'd alarmed all of the remaining gangs around the town. Some sharp-witted leaders had already brought their gangs to another noble's territory.
Currently, only Cardoj's main force was back in Dor province, the other nobles were still suppressing the rebellions in Shalor. They could do anything they pleased after leaving Cardoj's domain, so they just needed to get a new territory. As for those who weren't as smart and wanted to fight with Cardoj's soldiers, nothing but misery awaited.
Locke spent almost half of his time on his horse for one week straight. The Quarryton soldiers seemed to have returned to the days when they fought in Shalor, taking fragile lives with their swords every day.
Locke slashed the neck of the last bandit in his hand with his bright yellow longsword before sheathing it.
This was a gang of bandits who gathered on a mountain that was in between Quarryton and Losia Town. It was also a gang that was the furthest from Quarryton.
The soldiers had caused several bloodbaths around Quarryton this week. They wiped out all the rampant crooks who'd caused trouble there for the past few years. Except for those who'd sneaked away when they realised that something wasn't right, there were currently only a few thieves left who'd managed to flee, trembling while hiding in the dark. They were their last targets.
"Let's go!" called Locke. The cavalrymen mounted, carrying the bags of spoils with them, and followed behind Locke as they headed to Quarryton.
Billy inhaled; he had never breathed in such fresh air before. He couldn't believe that the crooks were wiped out in just a week. The soldiers brought a safe living environment and a lot of fortune back. As the mayor, many of Billy's relatives relied on him and opened some shops in town.
A huge part of the labour force had been taken away due to the war, so the civilians could only live on short commons. Their level of expenditure was very low, and the shops' businesses were just enough for the owners to not go in the red. But now, these businessmen earned a lot of profit, especially during this week.
There were only about two thousand civilians in the whole of Quarryton. The bandits had been living off them in the past few years. The soldiers who'd just made a fortune in Shalor weren't interested in the bandits' wealth. But it was different for the townspeople in Quarryton; they were dazzled by the large pile of copper thalers.
Copper thalers were welcome,as they were currently the main currency being used in this small town. As for silver thalers, it was likely for sellers to have trouble getting small change if someone went to a store and used them.
Locke didn't bother about the spoil-sharing; anything that wasn't silver thalers wasn't worth his time.
Besides Quarryton, Rocky Town, Harvest Town, and Losia Town were also flourishing. The soldiers who'd been at the frontlines taught those crooks a lesson, and the tuition fee was their lives. Not a single den could be found within two hundred miles of radius from several towns, with there only being some bandits in the remote areas of the territory. Cardoj's domain changed overnight; people no longer bothered locking their front doors at night.
The commoners from other domains sneaked into Cardoj's domain to settle down after seeing their situation. The baron welcomed them with open arms and gave all of them residency.
It wasn't just Cardoj's domain, the entire kingdom's young labour force had also suffered great losses from the five-year war. At this moment, people were the cornerstone of rebuilding. The more people there were, the more prosperous the domain would be.
Cardoj's domain would turn into a viscounty. So, in order to prevent his domain from having a huge population on scarce land, Cardoj started digging into the neighbouring nobles' land. Actually, the baron had ordered the suppression of bandits not just because he wanted stability, but also to drive these bandits to the other nobles' domains.
When the commoners from other nobles' domains saw that Cardoj's domain was stable and prosperous while their place was in pandemonium, they move out as long as they weren't stupid. A month later, there was an upsurge in emigration in the neighbouring nobles' domains. Many would rather risk being imprisoned and hanged by the lord as they moved to Cardoj's domain to enjoy a peaceful life.
There were a lot of changes in the domain, but Locke's horizons weren't that broad, so he couldn't tell what the changes were. He had been very busy lately as he had to attend a lot of wedding ceremonies.
Before the soldiers returned to Quarryton, the ratio of men to women of the appropriate age was 1:5, because almost all of the young men had joined the army. Now that the soldiers were back, the ratio changed to 1:3.
Currently, there were approximately 2000 commoners in Quarryton and there were about 500 of them who'd reached the marriageable age. Among them, fewer than 200 of them were men and the rest were all women.
This meant that there would be at least two hundred women who couldn't get married. It was because the men who could have been their husbands had died at the frontlines.
The town was lively and jubilant ever since the soldiers returned from the frontlines, but before this, dead silence reigned everywhere in the town.
Around 300 young men from Quarryton joined the army throughout the five-year war, and only a hundred men had returned. Quarryton looked harmonious and stable on the outside, but bitter tears were secretly shed. At least, the townsfolk cherished those that returned. The women in Quarryton were crazy for them, whether it was due to their abundant wealth or the mere fact they were men.
Putting others aside, the gate of Hans' house was almost trampled just because of the matter of Hans and Hank's marriage.
It was even more annoying for Locke.
He was now in an engagement ceremony of a soldier in his cavalry platoon, so Locke had no choice but to attend the ceremony out of politeness.
"Work hard!" Locke patted on the soldier's shoulder. Since he was a member of the cavalry platoon, he would have to carry out missions at any time. So, he could only get engaged first as he couldn't be a groom just yet.
Locke had been home for more than two weeks. He was planning to meet Suzanne and the others soon, he missed them a lot. As for Angelina, he wasn't sure when she would return home. She'd told him at the beginning that she would return soon, but he hadn't received any news from her yet.
While Locke wouldn't admit it, he was shaken by the frequent weddings in Quarryton and Maple Village. Although his parents didn't say anything, Locke could tell from their eyes that they wanted him to marry and settle down soon. After all, his parents were already married when they were his age.