Tale Of The Rooster Prince And Pearl Princess Chapter 40

39 Prelude To The Battle Of Knightsend

Luther was hungry. His stomach was growling and his body felt weak. The past few days had been hellish.

If it was already hellish for him, then it should more so for the rank and file. The Castonians really had them in checkmate. Without food, an army can't function properly. Marches can be tiring and a man needs to eat.

Luther put his hand inside his pocket and cupped a piece of dried meat. He took it out and secretly ate the whole thing in one bite. It was salty, too salty. But a person forgets his tongue's protests when the stomach talks. Luther wasn't satisfied with a single bite. He was really hungry. He put his hand inside his pocket again, but to his surprise and disappointment, there was nothing left.

"Centurion Lyn, do you have food left with you?" Luther asked the Centurion beside him

"No, Prefect. I ate the last of my rations a few hours ago." Centurion Lyn answered. There was annoyance in his voice. Luther doesn't care, he bought their loyalty so he shouldn't expect the Whistlers to be genuinely friendly with him.

"That's a shame then." Luther said with a melancholic tone. "I would have offered you a gold coin for a piece of dried meat"

"Keep dreaming. I wouldn't sell it to you even if you offered me two gold coins per piece. 'If' I still have dried meat, it would probably cost five gold coins each." Prefect Lyn gave Luther a meaningful smile.

"Sometimes I suspect that you Whistlers are merchants disguised as soldiers" Luther laughed "You really know how to haggle"

He then took a pen and started writing a promissory note.

"No Prefect, I want the real thing. I don't want your notes" Centurion Lyn stopped him.

Luther frowned. He only had about twenty gold coins left. He was saving it in case of emergency. Now Centurion Lyn wanted to take his coins. But his stomach was growling and his mouth was salivating at the thought of food so he agreed.

He took fifteen gold coins from his bag and handed it to Centurion Lyn. "Three pieces"

The Centurion took his coins and handed him three pieces of dried meat. "An honor doing business with you" he mocked.

Luther grabbed the food and ate it. It only took him a minute to finish his meal. Fifteen gold coins, Luther lamented, that was the worst deal he ever made. It would take a common soldier more than a year to save fifteen gold coins, yet he just spent the same amount on three pieces of salty dried meat.

But hunger makes one desperate. He looked around. Most of the soldiers marched lazily. They were weak from hunger and exhaustion. His uncle's decision to march at full speed didn't help either. A couple of weaklings had already fallen. They just left them on the road to die. They can't save the weaklings anyway.

Although they could just eat the horses, they refrained from doing so. More than half of the army worshiped the Great Rider. In many parts of Tulosa, eating horses was prohibited. The Great Rider loves his steed so much that eating horses was a sin for his followers.

Fools, Luther thought. Outdated, foolish and dangerous beliefs. They would rather starve than disobey their deity. Luther was not a believer of the Great Rider, so he was a little biased. But the Great Rider would forgive them right? It's a life and death situation so he will understand. Unfortunately most of the soldiers doesn't think so.

His uncle actually ordered the slaughter of horses at first. But the order was met with fierce objection from the soldiers. Even those who do not believe in the Great Rider opposed the order. Mutiny threatened the camp so General Sigurd changed his mind. It was really a shame and Luther cursed the Great Rider for making such an absurd request to his followers.

The three pieces of dried meat wasn't enough to satiate Luther's hunger. He wanted more. He was used to a life of luxury so his tolerance for hardship was not that high. He wanted to spend his last coins to buy more food, but he stopped himself. He needs money in case of emergency.

Maybe his uncle would give him rations? Luther thought. He was afraid of his uncle, but he needs to eat. Additionally, his Uncle won't beat him in front of the soldiers just because he asked for food. It's not like he was doing something illegal. So Luther decided to head to the front of the column and ask his uncle for food.

"I am going to the front. Centurion Lyn is in charge" he shouted to the Whistlers

"Why?" Centurion Lyn creased his brows

"The reason does not concern you Centurion"

"It does." Luther could feel that the Centurion was angry "These past few days, you have left your responsibilities as Prefect to me. The men always complained about our situation and I was always the one who faced them. Rations? Yes I was the one who distributed what meager food we had. Protests? I was the one who prevented them from having a mutiny. These are volatile times Prefect Luther. Face your responsibilities as Prefect. I'm tired of doing your job for you. You are the Prefect of the Whistlers. "

Luther doesn't really care. He bought them so he had no responsibility towards them. "What if I order you to do so? You will have no choice but to obey my orders. Like what you said, I am the Prefect of the Whistlers so I have the right to make you do my will. You're just like that because the Whistlers right now are a mess. Besides, I am going to the front for the sake of the army. General Sigurd needs me at the front. We still need to plan our strategy." Luther lied.

Centurion Lyn did not say anything. He just glared at Luther.

"In case you did not catch my words Centurion, I am ordering you to take over for a while. Do you understand?" Luther said

Centurion Lyn was still silent. He then slowly nodded but the Centurion was still glaring at Luther.

"I asked you a question Centurion. Answer me!" Luther shouted

"Yes! I nodded didn't I? Just go. Go now." The Centurion conceded.

Luther smiled. Finally the Centurion gets it. He mounted his horse and went to the front of the line.

It didn't take him long to find his uncle because the General's banner was huge. There were also many officers at the front, including Centurion Stan.

"Good morning General" Luther gave his uncle his most radiant smile.

"Why are you here? Your cohort was supposed to be at the back" General Sigurd said grumpily.

"My second-in-command can handle them. I just want to see Knightsend as soon as possible."

"Who are you kidding?" His uncle scoffed "You just want food. Well tough shit, we don't have any left. And even if we still have food, I won't give you special treatment"

Luther's heart broke after hearing that. He just wanted a few more bites, but fate wasn't good to him.

"No Uncle, I wasn't here for that. I just wanted to see Knightsend as soon as possible." He gave a nervous laugh. "Besides, I can't eat with that around." He turned his head towards the thing that was being dragged by the General's horse.

It was the body of one of the sentries who failed to guard the food wagons. General Sigurd tied the man to his horse and dragged him. The sentry's hands and feet were tied so he was dragged while lying down. The rocks and the ground shredded his body like minced meat. The wails of the sentry lasted for a few hours until the poor man died. After a few more days of marching, the sentry was reduced to grounded meat. It was revolting. Luther can't stomach seeing such a disgusting display.

Many soldiers, especially the Knights, protested after seeing such horrendous sight. Centurion Stan even tried to cut the rope once, but he was stopped and the General himself cut one of the Centurion's fingers as punishment.

"What? Do you want to follow Centurion Stan's footsteps? My punishment for the Centurion was not severe because of his good performance in the past. You, on the other hand, failed to kill even a single Castonian. Don't test my patience nephew." He warned "So endure it. I know you're weak but I need to show the soldiers the price of failure. The sentry deserves it anyway. Isn't that right, Centurion Stan?" he turned to the Centurion. His muscular appearance was terrifying.

Centurion Stan was silent for a long time until he said softly, "Yes General"

"I can't hear you Centurion Stan"

"Yes General" Centurion Stan gritted his teeth.

"Good. See? If righteous and noble Centurion Stan understands, then you should shut your mouth Luther. Now, go back to your Cohort"

Luther was just about to turn his horse around when the General stopped him.

"Wait" General Sigurd called. Luther turned to his uncle "You said that you wanted to see Knightsend. That's Knightsend." He pointed forward.

Luther squinted. At the distance, he could see a white dot. The dot grew as they approached it. After a few minutes, the figure of the castle became more apparent.

The finally arrived at Knightsend.
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