“It’s been a while, Milord,” Cowan was first to speak. Earlier on, he was rather intrigued by the bickering between Brendel and his subordinates, which was frankly bizarre to him.
Given his upbringing from the mining regions under Radner’s rule, he had been accustomed to the way Aouine Nobles treated the lower classes, and he detested each and every one of them. Just like all youths with a dream, Cowan decided to put his hatred and disdain into action.
Nevertheless, the future ruler of Radner and his progressive worldview were limited by the societal barricades of his time. His pursuance of freedom and equality was limited even in imagination by the structures of society and hence was adamant of the peculiar actions from Brendel, the thorn amongst the Nobles.
Seems like this Count Trentheim is truly just like the rumors put it, an individually acting person. Could it be his personality, or is it just a facade?
He knew the answer as it was. Ever since they were indebted to Brendel deep within the Schafflund's silver mines, the Count had left a lasting image.
He was different from the other Nobles of his social class, he valued trust, encouraged faith, and resembled the mannerisms of the Ancient Nobles.
Cowan did not intend to indiscriminately despise the nobles, he detested the morally corrupt and bygone ruling class. Every Aouine citizen carried good faith in the principles of the first King Eikkel, Cowan was no different, and in Brendel, he saw a sign of that faith.
Maybe this is who he had been looking for.
The future King of Radner was saturated with conflicted emotions but showed little as he right back at Brendel.
Brendel could guess at this point, but was still unable to believe that the future lord of a region would choose to pledge allegiance to him.
In Brendel’s eyes, an individual like Cowan, rising from refugee status to become the legitimate ruler of a region was one of the fables. The protagonist of a fairy tale, possessing wit, ambition, and drive.
If it were not for Aouine’s modest size, his future could be more than it was written. A man of his qualities in the other universe where Brendel’s real nationality lies, he could build an empire and a dynasty bearing his own name.
That man, that man decided to join me?!
Ever since he ventured into this world, this was the first time he felt gallant and proud. But from his observations, it was clear that the Cowan by his side was still far from the future King of Radner.
He was now still just a mountain bandit, not yet exposed to the events in the lore, and because of his role in the narrative, he might never get to.
During his stint in Schafflund, Cowan decisively chose not to pledge allegiance to him. One was because he was nothing but a bandit himself, naturally posing not much of an attraction for anyone to be interested in.
The second was because Cowan naturally was not offering anything much consideration given that he was just a teenager then. His intention was to venture beyond Schafflund to see the outside world.
Just half a year later, much had changed in the heart of the young man, now with the inspiration of the world beyond through the experiences gained.
“Thank you for all that you’ve done for the Cielmann region in the war thus far, Mr. Cowan. I believe this is a good time to remind you that lineage is not everything. Nobles aren’t born superior, capable people are, and I am proud to be here telling you that you are among the best there is.”
Brendel praised with a faint smile, “There are people who start their race in life far ahead of you, owing much to their parents but are now far behind you. Mr. Cowan, when the forefathers carved the borders of the kingdom, nothing was set in stone nor were they predetermined by the Heavens, everything owed to just three words.
Faith and grit.”
Cowan’s eyes brightened from his words, it was all he had been searching for thus far in his life. Brendel’s speech, word for word, was what kept him contemplating through countless nights. It was the source of his confusion. It almost seemed like Brendel indeed had mind-reading powers to him as he stared bewilderingly at Brendel.
But the deduction of the future king of Radner was actually right, Brendel did in certain ways possessed the ability to understand his concealed thoughts and aspirations.
In the historical lore of this world, Cowan had always pursued the glory of the Ancient Nobles, but it was not a rare aspiration in any way. It was the goal of every single Aouine citizen after all, but most could only dream, Cowan was one that had the grit to put in genuine strives towards that goal.
Brendel knew exactly what the future king of Radner was thinking and naturally would not have interpreted it wrongly. He however was slightly concerned, as the experience of this man before him was no longer the same as it was in the historical lore, he began to wonder if his perceptions of the world or the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ had differed from what he had known.
Cowan’s expression however seemed to soothe his doubts significantly, “That’s good to know. Even though most of Vaunte’s history had been chaos, there are certain details that have been remained intact thus far, unfortunately,” He thought to himself, despite already visibly more convinced than he was before they met.
“Cielmann is the most important buffer in our nation’s southern border. What could happen to it has already been proven today. South of here is a nation of darkness, and the fledgling nation of evil will soon be the most terrifying enemy to our kingdom. Mr. Cowan, there is far more than you can achieve than what you have done today.”
Cowan went silent for a moment, then kept his composure as he denied, “I’m just a mortal, Milord. What I’ve done today was not as noble as you have given me credit for. It was all to return what I’ve owed you.”
“Mr. Cowan, no need for the niceties,” Freya at that point too, noted the intentions between the two. These two men might have unsettled issues, she figured, but her participation was one half for her aspiration in defending Bucce, while the other was tied with Brendel. It was clear as day that Brendel’s intention was to recruit this young man before themselves, and by now she could tell from Brendel’s primary actions alone on what he was planning and she would pre instinctively back his opinion.
Cowan however looked right at the female knight before himself, shook his head but decidedly kept his silence.
Brendel knew the conversational formalities Freya picked up from the Royal Cavalry Academy likely meant no significance to an ambitious young man like Cowan. Those rigid arts of persuasion would probably only work on a pure-hearted maiden like Freya, he reckoned.
Facing Cowan, he replied, “Aren’t us both? For the faith towards this kingdom and a sincere heart that you now loiter in the fringes of the world, is that worth it? With such perseverance, everything else would mean little I’m sure, so why concern yourself with the complexity of details?”
Cowan sighed ever so slightly, but no longer refuted. With a slight nod, he moved himself to the side. Brendel could tell that he was convinced and no longer pursued any further. This was a man of much capabilities he believed, and with a brought up quite similar to his own, if he were to pledge his allegiance to a Noble house, it would be his.
Panning his sights towards the entire kingdom, there really was no one else that would offer him the fair and respectable treatment that he offered. I guess I too wouldn’t get to do what I have done so far it wasn’t for Her Grace’s unyielding trust or my lineage as the grandson of the Great Earth Sword Saint Darius. Who knows what the dirty Noble houses would’ve done to me.
The animosity between the Nobles and the peasants was deeply imbued and upheld.
As the rain drizzled on, Brendel moved on from the question and now turned back towards Carglise by the sidelines, “Right, how’s the situation in the frontlines now? Is our Count Jacques dead or alive, how many of Viero’s army remains?”
Carglise was invigorated as he hurriedly took to reply, “Tomob that rascal sure still is a man with guts. However, less can be said about his dumb cavalry under his direct command, nearly sending the Vierons to their graves. In Marsha’s name, I have never seen such a spectacular failure, even as a joke.
But surprisingly Milord, Tomob decisively forbade his army from deserting their positions, which in itself was already a miracle. Madara such is a terrifying place to behold…”
Just the mere mention of Madara made him shudder. Since the Battle of Ampere Seale, they had all put the White Lion Battalion in the highest regard and had never offered Madara much attention.
Even though on more than one occasion Brendel mentioned the fearful threat of Bromantonu’s Black Roses, but in Carglise perspective, the terror of the Undead legion only applied to the aged and dysfunctional Aouine army, in which the Legion of the Undead in a direct encounter would trample across the Noble private army like twigs. On the other hand, if their opponent was the White Lion Battalion, they would not stand a chance.
The White Lion Battalion in the Battle of Ampere Seale single-handedly bore the full force of the Devil Legion. Regardless of how terrorizing the tales of the Undead were, it was without a doubt that in terms of single unit Combat Skills, none could compare to the Devils.
But what he witnessed today was a fresh outlook, once again solidifying his admiration towards the lord commander.
Evidently, all leaders of battle that just had their first encounter with the Undead army would have a similar reaction to that of Carglise. The Undead as a single entity would not be as terrifying as the Devils, but when assembled into a functioning army, it was one of the most formidable forces in the known world.
This was an army silent, unopinionated, and devoid of emotion, they would never desert from pain or injury. Not until they were completed destroyed would they resist or terminate any form of retaliation. They were renowned for the absence of despair, excitement, or greed. They march forward as ordered and devoured all that stood in their path.
Their opponents could never experience a gallant victory, for what sense of achievement can a living human gain from fighting emotionless structures of skeletons and bones. It was pointless, but they had to defeat them all, break them down to win.
A battle against the Undead would leave the victors physically and emotionally exhausted, but the losers, the loser would not feel a thing. By then they would have already been a part of the Black Roses.
The Roses of Bromantonu would never cease, and would never fade away.