Ruhr guffawed, but then spoke seriously, “You’re a newborn fledgeling, you have no status and no experience here, nor do you have anyone helping you. You’re the best target for anyone who is hungry for power. Who else would they target? Hmmph, I reminded you but you did not pay any attention so I didn’t press on, thinking you should have a taste of it yourself. But I never thought they would cross the line.
There was a pause when the fat man lowered his voice. “Mmm, actually, there were people like you in the past here in the city but it was never this dramatic. This time, someone is deliberately harassing you. Although you don’t have any power here, you’re still a military officer. In the past, no one would dare overstep their boundaries because you belonged to the military, for if they really killed you, the people in the military would take revenge. Rhodelia is a powerful name here. But this time, I’ll be honest. News of your presence spread across the city literally ten days before your arrival, and the military had spread the information that they would not interfere if someone were to touch you. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Shaar’s eyes were on fire.
“Actually, you still have hope.” The fat man thought for a moment. “You’re now sandwiched between the military and His Majesty. No aristocratic family would take you in. Your skills are lacking, your foundation too shallow so you can’t take disciples. The best way is to become a noble yourself. Hehe, if you become an aristocrat, well then the law protects them. You will have the right to refuse any challenge from peasants. No one would think it is a detriment to your reputation if you refuse, unless your opponent is also a noble. In that case, refusing to duel means an automatic defeat. After your work, I’m sure His Majesty would give you a title. That is why you only need to endure this for a few more days. Once you get your title, most of the troubles will stop.”
“A FEW DAYS?” Shaar rolled his eyes. “So do I just meditate for the next few days? I’ll have to go without food or sleep, not even having time to shower or poop?” The fat man grinned. “Don’t worry, I was just giving you a lesson last night. Today, I’ll send people to protect you. Hmmph, your life will be much better with guards.”
Shaar scoffed and glared at him. “How dare you play me like that, hmmph.”
The fat man grinned. “You’d better not offend me or I’ll take my men back and you’ll have to fend for yourself.”
Shaar shuddered, keeping his mouth shut.
The fat man laughed heartily when he saw the hillbilly shut up, delighted with himself.
With Ruhr’s bodyguards, Shaar’s life quietened down dramatically and he could finally go take a shower and change his clothes. After his meal, at noon, Ruhr brought Shaar to report his arrival in the military headquarters at the eastern region of Osgiliath. They passed through Osgiliath’s central square and main arena, then headed east through a long street named ‘Glory Road’.
Two rows of evergreen oaks grew on both sides of the road paved with stone tiles, wide and solemn. The road was exceptionally quiet, only the sound of far away horses trotting and patrol guards marching could be heard.
The military headquarters took up a huge area, and outside, there was a huge square surrounded by stone pillars and a short stone wall. Above the main entrance was the empire’s eagle head military flag. Armoured soldiers with weapons stood on both sides. Following Ruhr, Shaar entered the military square. There was a huge fountain at the centre with statue that was five metres tall. It was a general riding on a galloping horse, one hand holding the reins and another raising his sword.
Shaar subconsciously straightened his back, even his expression grew solemn as he looked up at the statue with reverence.
Shaar thought the statue looked strange, for his armour was tattered and even his battle horse was covered in scars as it galloped. This statue captured the tragic victories of battle. Why did they not make it more perfect, why carve a tattered statue?
He spotted a line at the base carved in Byzantine.
“There is no end in the path to victory.”
With this strange thought, Shaar and Ruhr entered the main building- a circular building incredibly worn with age. From the outside, it looked like a gigantic bird’s nest magnified many times its original size. This oval architecture was more than ten metres tall, much taller than many buildings in the city. It was built with green-black stone and more than ten obilisks were built outside the next. It looked like a giant castle.
“This is the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, the empire’s military headquarters.” The fat man took out an entry pass when they approached the main entrance. The soldiers at the doors clad in linen with armour on top immediately thumped their chests in salute.
Walking inside, they came to a vast hall with spotted marble tiles. Every footstep rang across the hall.
The fat man brought them to a counter at the end of the hall and said something to the people there.
Very quickly, the officer assigned to welcome guests greeted them.
After some waiting, another thin-looking soldier walked out wearing Byzantine military uniform. He seemed to have a position at the cavalry level. After he looked at Shaar’s documents, his features squeezed into a smile. It looked very forced, even Shaar could feel the enmity and coldness in his eyes.
“Sir Shaar Thunder.” After the military officer confirmed Shaar’s identity, he brought Shaar to a room at the back of the hall and took out two documents. “Please sign at the bottom. After this registration, the military will soon officially verify your military contributions and the description of the event. Then your reward will be given as soon as possible. Mm. Also, from this moment, your position as the leader of the 13th army will be defunct, new orders will arrive soon. We will arrange for a place for you to stay. Or, you could leave your address and we’ll send for you if there are any other orders.” Based on Ruhr’s briefing before they arrived, Shaar knew to reject their offer for him to stay with the military. Why? There were too many people who wanted to kill him in there, he wouldn’t want to be inside!
He read through the documents carefully, then signed his name on it and stamped his fingerprint.
The military smirked. He stood up, then forced a military salute. He looked at Shaar and said without an ounce of sincerity, “I deeply respect your heroic contributions on the frontlines.”
After that, the officer looked at the door. This meant: it’s time for you to leave.
Shaar could obviously feel the hostility and obviously did not want to waste time here, so he left quickly. Ruhr, who was waiting outside in the hall, whispered to Shaar, “Just ignore him. There are many delinquents in the military, they ruin the reputation of the military.”
Shaar did not care. “What do we do now?”
“We wait.” Ruhr shrugged. “We’ll wait for their reward, and wait for the emperor to summon you. I think the reward will take a while but the summon should come soon. When you receive your noble title, you’ll live a much quieter life.”
Shaar sighed, though he couldn’t help but worry. “These days have been frustrating, this is nothing like life at Primal Wildfire Town.”
Ruhr grinned, leading Shaar out of the hall when they heard a yell.