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Chapter 418: Satisfied

 Chapter 418: Satisfied

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

As soon as he had set foot in Stormenburg, Anfey immediately felt different. The streets were clean and wide, and there were people on the streets. Although there were lots of people out on the street, they remained to the side of the road and left the road to carts and carriages. Like Maho Empire's Sacred City, there were small holes on the side of the road that acted as a drainage system. Stormenburg's drainage system was perhaps even better than Sacred City's. The drains ensured that the city would have cleans streets and made the city more sanitary.

Anfey had a very good first impression of the city. The buildings along the streets were very organized as well. Anfey heard that Stormenburg had expanded twice to accommodate the increasing population. This city was very flexible and could expand even more. After all, Jacob had been the one that designed the city. Unlike White Mountain City and Blackwater City, Stormenburg had been under the control of Band of Brothers mercenary group since its founding, which must be one of the reason why Stormenburg was much more organized than the other two.

Marino and two of his men were waiting outside the gate to the inner city. Anfey hurried off of his horse to greet him. "Lord Marino," he said, bowing. "It's good to see you again."

"Good to see you as well, Count Anfey," Marino said with a quick bow.

Suzanna walked over and smiled at Marino.

"Good to see you, Lady Suzanna," Marino said. "You're as beautiful as ever. Come, come. Let's go inside."

Anfey looked up and saw the mercenaries behind Marino looking at him weirdly. Seeing that he had noticed them, the mercenaries quickly looked away.

Marino led them into the inner city, where they were greeted by a wave of cheers. The windows of the buildings on the side of the road were all open, and young girls were standing by the windows, throwing flowers at the visitors. Anfey smiled as he picked up a flower. Who knows how these girls came by these flowers in the winter?

Suzanna glanced at Anfey and frowned. Anfey nodded at her. It did not take long for them to get to the inner city. They couldn't have planned all this in that short amount of time, could they? Did Marino know that they were coming beforehand?

Marino smiled at the flowers and kept walking. This was less of a city and more of a kingdom within a kingdom, and Marino was its king.

The mercenaries in the alliance had been in constant danger before arriving. Now that they were in Stormenburg and were safe, they began thinking about things other than survival. With so many beautiful women around, some mercenaries were getting very distracted. They waved and hooted, trying to get the girls' attention. The girls, however, dutifully ignored the mercenaries.

Marino led them to the conference room in the government building. Before anyone had the chance to sit, Entos appeared. "Hey," he said to Ozzic. "Come with me. I'll show you around." Ozzic hesitated, but quickly realized that Marino must want to talk to Anfey in private. Ozzic nodded and followed Entos out. The other mercenary commanders followed as well, leaving Anfey and Suzanna alone with Marino.

"Did you run into trouble on the way here?" Marino asked, motioning them to sit.

Anfey nodded as he sat down next to Suzanna. "We ran into some trouble with Shansa Empire's Scarlet," Anfey said.

"How did that happen?" Marino asked, his eyes wide.

"We took some crystals from her."

"How much?"

"Two carts."

Marino laughed. "I would be angry with you also, if I was her." He was surprised by the amount of crystals, but he did not discuss it further. Marino turned to the mercenaries behind him and said, "Let me introduce you. These are my men, Uri, Bernedo, and Shashibi. They've been with me for years."

The three mercenaries hurried over and bowed to Anfey.

Anfey stood and helped them up, then turned to Marino and asked, "What is the meaning of this?"

"Go gather your men," Marino ordered quietly. The three mercenaries nodded and left the room.

"Lord Marino, this..." Anfey did not sit back down. He stood there, watching Marino with a frown.

"I know this must be strange," Marino said. He pushed a file on the table over to Anfey. "You'll understand when you read this."

Anfey opened the file and nodded. It was a direct order from Yolanthe that made Marino an inheritable duke. Stormenburg and five hundred miles around the city would be his land. It also gave Marino and his heirs pardon for any crimes. Next to Yolanthe's signature was a red fingerprint. As long as Maho Empire existed, this order would be effective.

Yolanthe's generosity surprised Anfey, but it still did not answer his question. "Congratulations, Duke!" he said with a genuine smile. Marino's rise in status would be a great asset.

"Thank you," Marino said quietly. "You see, I'm not a very ambitious person. Which is why I need to take care of everything after I received this."

"You mean..."

"I know myself, but that doesn't mean others know me. I need to prevent conflicts and make myself clear to anyone." Marino chuckled. "Rulers are like beasts. You never know what will anger them."

"You are given a pardon," Anfey said.

"By His Majesty," Marino said, "who can revoke it any time he wants. People with less power, on the other hand, are much safer. People like Marquis Djoser. He had done a lot of things, but His Majesty had never punished him, because Djoser did not have enough power to change the empire."

Anfey sat down in his seat. He was beginning to understand Marino's concerns. "But His Majesty isn't like that."

"I respect His Majesty, but what about his son? His son's son?" Marino shook his head. "The pardon only works when we stay in our lanes. Entos trusts you, which is why I am telling you this. You're too young, so you may not understand. I did not understand for a long time until recently. Do you know why His Majesty did this?"

"Because he trusts you."

"No," Marino said, shaking his head. "If you have a magic beast, and one day you give it a lot of food, what will you be thinking?"

"I hope that it never gets hungry and harasses me again," Anfey said.

"Exactly. From now on, I'm on my own. I cannot ask His Majesty for anything anymore. This is the most he can give me," Marino said. "After the war began, a lot of mercenaries took refuge here. I'm worried that I may not be able to support them, but I cannot turn them away, either. I'm a duke already: Why do I need so many mercenaries? I'm not ambitious, and I'm satisfied with everything as it is. I don't need these mercenaries here, do you understand?"