The third release of the week is served!
Sol, I brought my friends to Morante for fun, not to be trapped inside a hotel! This is ridiculous!
Lorist was currently on the hotel's fourth-floor balcony, watching the angry crowd that circled it.
That guy is far too sinister. He not only he spread lies, he also paid the various publications in Morante to spread word that this matter was because of us acting shamefully and harassing the merchants... He's spinning the story that his son was being heroic. Darn, to think the commoners would be completely fooled by a story with that many holes. I bet most of them were intentionally riled up by others to surround the hotel and call out for our deaths. And the numbers just keep growing after the Rosanji Merchant Guild said they would give 2.5 kilograms of food to any who attend, so even those who see the flaws in the story are willfully ignoring it... Guess I can't blame them for doing so since the Moranites don't have much to do nowadays anyway. There won't be a better deal than getting a few potatoes for a day of standing around...
At the very least, they're being very ordered about this and haven't come into the hotel at all. They're nothing more than a nuisance, honestly.
Lorist looked at the supply carriages stopped by the citizens. The coachman and some workers were suffering a harsh beating after saying something Lorist couldn't hear.
Sheesh, do they want us to die here? It's already been three days, and the situation grows direr by the day. Even with so many citizens surrounding the place, the hotel's carriages are still allowed to travel around, but not without being checked by the citizens.
Perhaps, the other merchants will stop supplying the hotel with food and other resources in a few more days to force the hotel management's hand.
Hidegold Bay Chronicles was a business-oriented publication that focused on trade and market prices but the headlines of the day read, 'Northland Barbarians Must Pay with Lives -- Restore Morantian Pride!'. The article that followed was filled with the seething arrogance the Moranites were so well known for and a hint of hatred and killing intent as if the arrival of the foreign nobles to their city was a sin in and of itself.
Very well, I'll remember you, Hidegold Bay Chronicles.
Lorist rolled the paper in his hands into a ball and tossed it into a trashcan nearby.
"What's wrong?" asked Count Kenmays, coming onto the balcony.
"I think there's more today," said he with a pale face, "What's going on with the Moranites? This is completely unlike what I expected them to be."
"Nothing," Lorist said, clicking his tongue, "Those that come all have something wrong with their heads! After the second highness' defeat and the occupation of much of Redlis following the War of Glass, the Moranites believe that the Union is the strongest nation on the continent and look down on everyone, even nobles. It must be due, in part, to their inferiority complex, given their mercantile background.
"Now that the Union has implemented the nobility system, many of them are nobles as well. It's like they've transformed. They've been given instant status above others. Their arrogance stems from thinking that a small title makes them nobles without question. Given how a matter like noble ladies being harassed in broad daylight can happen, it goes to show how low the character of the Union nobles is."
Count Kenmays nodded.
"'Tis true. You have no idea how shocked I was about the incident in Rotary street. House Bejisanro's young master actually dared to do what he did there. My first impression of their house is that they are noble imposters. No noble should ever behave that shamelessly, especially with how the young master ordered his guards to take the women away forcefully after his advances were refused. Heavens, is that something nobles are allowed to do?
"Even in messy Iblia, women of two noble houses with a death grudge would greet each other politely if they meet. That is the culture of nobility. I didn't think I'd actually run into something like this. How embarrassing this is for other nobles! I will definitely publicly refuse to acknowledge these fake nobles when I return home. Being associated with them as nobility feels so disgusting that I feel like puking."
Count Kenmays, aren't you from a mercantile family yourself? Then again, your father was given a title, if only honorary, in the last days of the empire. You were no doubt educated in the ways of nobility. It would explain your effortless integration into the society of proper nobility when you were given a fief.
"Do you think you can even make it back, my old friend?" Lorist said in an effort to give the count a scare, "Look at the crowd. They want to make us stay here and spread word of this matter according to their lies. Didn't you read the report in the newspapers yesterday? The one about how the heroic young master is still recovering from his broken leg?"
As he expected, Count Kenmays' face paled even more.
"Will... Will it really turn out like that? My friend, you aren't messing with me, are you?" asked he, jittery.
"Do you see the new guards that arrived this morning?" Lorist asked, pointing at the hotel's fully-armed guards on the ground below, "Dauslyke is one of the many businesses run by the House Mireitas. They've always controlled the hotel business in the Union. If they did not feel the situation was dangerous, would they have sent for 300 additional guards and another blademaster?
"You should be thankful that you're living in Dauslyke right now. It's your lifeline. House Mireitas won't allow any of their guests to come to any harm. They will guarantee your safety as long as you are in the hotel. Do you still think we're paying more than we should?"
"No, it's definitely worth every coin! I brought more than 100 thousand gold Fordes' notes with me. If all of us spend around 200 in total, we can stay here for a whole year. Let's see if those outside can afford to wait that long," said he, sighing in relief.
Lorist laughed bitterly, thinking, This fellow's going to use his money to slap others for the sake of his safety again... There's no way those outside will let us stay here for a whole year. Besides, even if you can stand being kept here for a year, others can't.
"How stupid can you be?" Lorist said, glaring at him harshly, "There's so much that needs to be done in my dominion. There's no way I'm staying imprisoned here with you! What we need to do now is think of a way to break out and leave Morante by ship. There are roughly 20 thousand people surrounding the hotel and I doubt it'd take much for them to become violent. Do you think those guards will be able to stop them?"
"You do have a point." agreed Baron Felim as he came to the balcony with Baron Shazin.
Looking at the dense crowd, Baron Felim said with a solemn look, "Brother Kenmays, you were away from the frontlines for the duration of the empire's civil war. You've never seen how scary a violent crowd can be. I have seen a crowd of tens of thousands of starving refugees barge into military camps that had 3000 or so soldiers. Even though half the crowd perished as a result, the gold-ranked and silver-ranked knights, and all the troops they led were completely wiped out.
"Locke, I've been paying attention to the crowd these two days. They're acting in an orderly fashion. Someone's organizing them. There are people that come and go almost like they're changing shifts. In the afternoon, they are also people who bring food and drinks for them.
"The commoners are being rallied to surround the hotel. The moment more of them come together, they might just be instigated to charge into the hotel. The blademaster and the 300 guards won't be able to protect themselves, much less us. We must leave this place soon, or we won't have a good end."
"You're right. This is urgent," Lorist agreed, "We must notify the manager and have them provide us with a carriage. Apart from the women and maidservants, all male servants and guards should be armed and guard the carriage. I'll find a way to head to the port and check if anything has happened to Northsea. If everything's fine, we can board right away. As long as we set sail, we'll be safe."
Count Kenmays asked hesitantly, "Can you actually make it out there? There are so many people and they will be checking every carriage that goes through."
"It's fine. I lived in this city for a decade. I'm familiar with their accent and habits. Also, I wasn't there with you at Rotary street, my face shouldn't recognizable. There is no more suitable candidate. Don't worry, I'll be back soon," said Lorist, smiling.
However, Lorist did not expect the manager to refuse his request.
"Lord Count, I really don't think you should head out. It's far too dangerous outside. As long as you stay in here, we can guarantee your safety. There's no way the people outside will rush into the hotel with Blademaster Mike here," retorted the manager.
"I am incredibly thankful for all your house is doing for us. There is truly no one better in terms of hospitality and service. However, I wish to put an end to this farce myself as soon as possible. The Peterson Merchant Guild and Chikdor Merchant Guild have some ties with our house. Even though their president is not here, I want to send a letter to them so they can send someone here to mediate," said Lorist.
The manager pondered hesitantly for a moment. Lorist's proposal was rather reasonable, and he also wanted the situation to be resolved as soon as possible. If what Lorist said was true, the Peterson and Chikdor Merchant Guilds would definitely be more capable of handling the matter than House Mireitas. While Marquis Bejisanro could afford to ignore his house, they definitely had to take a step back in front of the two big-seven guilds.
"Sir, I'm afraid we aren't able to escort you. Given how messy the crowd outside is, it's incredibly difficult for us to bring you out of here; almost impossible, in fact, with the presence of the Rosanji Merchant Guild's rank 2 blademaster, Danhema," interjected Blademaster Mike, brows furrowed.
"I believe both of you misunderstood me. I never intended to have you rush out with me. All I want is to borrow a set of servant garments so I can disguise myself as a coachman and drive a carriage. I can blend in and leave easily in such a manner," smiled Lorist.
"Oh?" the manager mused, "Do you know how to drive a carriage?"
"Hehe, of course. I studied at Dawn Academy for ten years and am also very familiar with the city. I didn't think that bringing my friends here would land us in such deep trouble, though. Morante has changed too much over this last decade," said Lorist wistfully.
"Oh, no wonder I felt you were a little different from your friends. It's no wonder you're like us Moranites. So you grew up here. If you don't mind the trouble, we can lend you the clothes and wish for your successful endeavor," acquiesced the manager.
As expected, Lorist faced some trouble leaving. Not only was the top and bottom of his carriage given a thorough check, his whole body was searched to make sure he wasn't carrying any letters. Even the small silvers in his pocket were taken. He was even kicked a few times before he was allowed to leave.
Lorist eventually arrived at the headquarters of the Peterson Merchant Guild with his carriage. He gave the door a few knocks before entering. Once inside, he soon understood that the guild's higher-ups were all absent, they had gone to their dominion. They were currently sorting out the noble hierarchy there. President Peterson was at the top, no doubt, and he wouldn't return for some time. Given that the trade routes were cut off, the big-seven used the opportunity to set their dominion up. Most would probably only return to struggle for power in the city much later. Their dominions were of incredible importance to them, a kind of packup plan.
Since the Peterson Merchant Guild was not able to offer any help, Lorist left the carriage and used another, one of the guild's, to head to the port. Northsea was still docked, but the captain and sailors were filled with worry. They had heard of the situation. Had it not been for Lundmorde's orders, the sailors might have already armed themselves to slaughter their way through the crowd.
"If you had really done that, not only would you be charging to your deaths, you would also needlessly expose Northsea. How would we leave if we do break out in that case? You guys are trained for naval combat, so don't be reckless on land. All you have to do is make sure we have a means to leave. Your duties will start when we board the ship!" rebuked Lorist.
Once he felt they'd had enough lecturing, he ordered them to prepare for departure. They were to be on alert at all times and leave the moment Lorist's group finished boarding.
"Milord, this is some information about the Rosanji Merchant Guild and Marquis Bejisanro. He is the chief speaker of the sub-council and is also the Rosanji Merchant Guild's president. This is the declaration of his intent to form an army to deal with the neighboring nations, and here are the twisted reports about the mess his son caused," reported Lundmorde.
As the chief intelligence gatherer of the house, the information he collected was incredibly detailed.
Lorist read the reports and quickly determined the location of the guild's warehouse.
"Lundmorde, I need you to have something prepared for me. We'll go there for a trip tonight."