Release that Witch Chapter 432
Therefore, Otto did not plan to go straight to the castle, but to first spend one or two days looking at the prince's territory before turning to local rats for information, as a picture was worth a thousand words.
He walked out of the cabin and onto the trestle, and was immediately astonished at what he saw.
This is... really a borderland wharf?
The dock areas were built with russet colored bricks within several hundred paces from the river bank. Trestles were built at certain intervals, with a sign where the trestle and the dock connected, on which there was a number. Otto counted them roughly. There were 26 in total, all of which were neatly displayed like tentacles extending from the bank. Some were covered with snow while others revealed the tawny planks beneath. This indicated the town's wharf was well taken care of even during the Months of the Demons.
In comparison, the trestles at the dock of King's City were less than half the ones here in terms of both length and number!
However, what stunned him more was the boats at the wharf.
A line of colossal gray boats he had never seen were at berth not far away. There were seven or eight in total, each of which had a shallow waterline with no sail or mast. Nonetheless, they were definitely too big to be operated by poles. One unique feature of these strange boats was the giant wooden tire on either side and the bulky iron pipe in the middle. They looked different from any inland river boats.
Otto stood there and watched them for quite a while. He was still trying to figure out how these weird "tire boats" were operated when it began to snow.
He brushed the snow off his head, put these thoughts behind him, and decided to follow the crew to the town.
Apparently, Otto was not the only passenger on the "Downwind" from King's City. He watched the crew unloading cargo and piling it up at the wharf. Several guards wearing black uniforms were jotting something down on the paper. They seemed to be examining the goods, as they picked out a couple of bags every now and then.
"Who are those people? The mercenaries hired by buyers?" Otto went to ask the captain.
"Huh? Mercenaries?" The captain beamed, "Those guys are patrollers in Border Town."
"Patrollers?" He was puzzled. Weren't they the same as bandits? He remembered the first time he left King's City, the patrollers there blackmailed him for two silver royals, which he later learned was actually a common practice everywhere. These patrollers were sort of the rivals of underground rats, but they basically did the same thing. The difference was they charged more and often charged for nothing. However, to Otto's surprise, the captain seemed pretty relaxed, still smoking his pipe leisurely without any intention to stop them, nor did he thrust them silver royals or ask the patrollers to leave.
"Patrollers' rules?" Otto doubted, frowning. "Even the bandits here talk about rules, and they also note things down. They probably write nothing but wriggly symbols, but this is already more than enough to blow my mind."
"What are they recording?" he questioned.
"The types and numbers of goods... especially wheat," the captain answered, throwing up his hands. "Goods will be checked after being delivered to the market. This is to prevent you from selling them to others halfway. The food here can only be sold by the lord. Of course, I don't have wheat in my cargo, so it's going to be fast."
All the bags were loaded to the carriages and everybody departed from the wharf, ready to set out for the market. Otto was suddenly dazzled by the scene.
Is this really the most deserted territory in the Kingdom of Graycastle?
Looking at the smooth, hard-surfaced road, the handsome houses along the street and people going to and fro, Otto felt the town was as thriving as City of Glow, the capital of the Kingdom of Dawn.
As a noble, he had seen many magnificent buildings. Compared with the Spire of Dawn and the Great Hall of Sun, these two or three-story buildings were definitely not in the same league.
Yet there was only one Spire of Dawn, which was surrounded by tumble-down houses, swampy paths, and muddy water.
However, he could not find a single house here that looked even slightly worn, as if all the residences had come about at the same time.
"You look quite surprised," the captain said, laughing. "Nothing to be embarrassed about. Everybody was as stunned as you when they first came here. I ought to say Border Town is an amazing place. See the three-story building over there? It wasn't there when I was here last time."
"I heard... that it used to be a mining base here."
"That's what I've heard too, but who knows the truth," he commented, picking the nose. "You know a lot of times rumors fly and truth walks. Perhaps there's tons of gold hidden in the North Slope Mine, and that was why His Majesty sent his son down here... After all, they're blood-related."
"Hang on. What's that?!" Across the square, Otto suddenly caught a glimpse of two big colorful balloons floating in the air. Below hung a banner, which read "Welcome to Border Town" on one side, and "Join Now to Obtain the Citizen Welfare" on the other.
"Even refugees?" Otto asked in dismay, "What's the citizen welfare?"
"Allowance for work, food for the first two months and a shelter. Sounds pretty awesome, eh?" The captain explained airily, "It isn't that easy to get approved. Many of my crews have tried, but none of them passed. The Lord wants someone who's loyal, not a believer of the church and has no criminal records. But holy cricket, theft is also a crime. All sailors stole at some point in their lives, don't you think? Plus, it looks very bustling here, but in fact, there're also lots of downsides as far as I can tell."
"Barely any entertainment. No casinos or whorehouses, not even a hooker on the street." He coughed out a spit and continued to complain, "Wouldn't you be bored to death living in a place like this?"
The marketplace was to the north of the square. Otto decided to first take a look by himself while the captain and his crews were delivering the goods. According to the captain, there were plenty of rare finds in the convenience market on this side and the high-end market on the other. Indeed there were. Otto saw lines of racks filled with various goods. Once he lingered a little longer at a booth, there would be someone coming up to greet him. No matter what the result of the negotiation with Prince Roland would be, Otto knew this town had already drawn his attention.
Just then, there was a stir among the multitude.
Otto turned around and saw two ladies heading toward this side.
One of them was wearing a black gown with a long dark ponytail. She had fine eyes, a cute nose and plump lips. But the coldness on her face made her look unapproachable. The other one, was completely different, looking soft and gentle. The traits of her every character were elegant and graceful like a warm spring breeze. Her gorgeous blonde hair reflected a shimmer of golden rays of the dawn.
Otto felt all his blood rushed to his head at the sight of the blonde lady.
He rubbed his eyes over and over again, hands slightly trembling, and was sure it was her...
"Andrea Quinn!" Unable to restrain his excitement, Otto shouted aloud in the crowd.