Release that Witch Chapter 451
To Rene's surprise, there were soldiers in uniform everywhere, not shamelessly plundering the mansion, but guarding crossroads in an orderly fashion. A few blood stains dotted the snowy ground, but there were neither bodies nor scattered clothing around, which meant the soldiers didn't pillage the dead when they cleared the battlefield. What he saw confirmed his supposition that these troops were different from any he'd ever seen.
"Is Petrov alright? " He looked at Iron Axe. "How is... Longsong Stronghold?"
"Everything is alright." The tall, strong, foreign man spoke very little, but he'd answer as long as Rene asked.
"That means Jacques Medde's plan didn't work." Rene was slightly relieved. "If Stronghold is intact and the Honeysuckle Family is unharmed, Petrov is bound to put in a good word for me." He didn't care about Jacques' fate. "That idiot almost dragged the Elk Family into a catastrophe, so whatever happened to him isn't my concern."
"Brother... what on earth did Jacques do?" Aurelia leaned over and asked quietly.
Rene hesitated, shook his head and said, "I don't know."
Aurelia instantly made an expression as if to say "you're lying".
Rene smiled bitterly. He really didn't know how to answer that question... He couldn't simply say that Jacques intended to rebel, because he only knew about the planning stages and didn't know how that plan turned out. After some silence, he asked, "Do you really want to go to the castle with me?"
"Of course. I'm very curious about what exactly happened to give these men a reason to break into the Earl's mansion in broad daylight." She stared at Iron Axe and said, "I think Milord Petrov wouldn't just sit by and do nothing about it."
Rene understood that his sister was actually worried about Petrov, so he finally nodded and said, "Alright. If you ask him in person, he might tell you the details."
The group of people rode on horseback for about an hour along the snow covered roads and reached the Stronghold castle at noon.
With Iron Axe leading the way, Rene and his sister stepped onto the third floor, which was heavily guarded by sentries placed every few steps.
When he entered a room that looked like a study, Rene finally saw Petrov Hull, his childhood friend. However, Petrov only stood next to his desk respectfully. A gray-haired man sat by the desk, looking at Rene and Aurelia with interest and playing with a quill pen. Almost instantly, Rene recognized who this man was.
"He is ..." Aurelia was a little surprised, but Rene tugged her clothes gently and hinted at her to bend a knee and bow.
"We met each other in Longsong Stronghold," the prince said with a smile, "right in the castle's basement. According to what Iron Axe just told me, you were locked up there again?"
"Uh..." Rene was embarrassed and didn't know what he should say.
Luckily, the prince wasn't expecting an answer. "Please rise. Before I ordered the attack on the Elk territory, Petrov had repeatedly assured me that you would never take part in Jacques Medde's rebellion, and it seems he was right about you. But... how did you end up in the basement?"
Rene cast an appreciative look at Petrov and told the prince what had happened in his family.
"I see." The prince nodded. "It's a shame. If you could have stopped Earl Jacques, Longsong Stronghold wouldn't have gone through this disaster."
That remark shocked Rene, and Aurelia couldn't help but ask, "What... happened?"
"Jacques Medde colluded with the Maple Leaf, Wolf, and Wild Rose families, and they attacked Longsong Stronghold two days ago." The prince said coldly, "The attack led to mass casualties of innocent people, and two blocks were burnt down. To force the Honeysuckle Family to surrender, they even hurt Petrov's family."
Rene couldn't believe his ears. "Even when fighting a rival noble, threatening them with their families is considered very shameful. How could Jacques do that?"
"This rebellion involved many parties, but I assure you that no one involved in the attack will escape the punishment of the law—all the rebels will be severely punished!" The prince knocked on the desk and said, "I came to Stronghold to clean the entire Western Region and not let a single rat slip through my fingers!"
Rene felt his back break into a sweat. "Your Highness, I..."
Roland waved his hand to interrupt him. "Don't worry, I won't take my anger out on innocent people, and the Elk Family's offspring will be spared. Actually, I have a question for you. Jacques Medde was killed in the rebellion, so are you willing to inherit the title of Earl and serve me, just as Hull does?"
To his surprise, he felt quite calm while pledging his oath.
Actually, he had never hated this prince who took his father's life. "In a battle field, anything could happen to anyone. Moreover, it was not the prince but Duke Ryan and the other five families who started the war. After the war, the prince didn't treat the defeated noblemen harshly, and he also exchanged captives for ransom, a conventional practice among the nobility. If father hadn't died in the battle field, he probably could've gone back to our territory safe and sound, just as the Earl of Honeysuckle did."
Rene was trained as a knight and held the values of a knight deep in his heart—"A battle is plausible as long as it's righteous, and what Jacques did was not only unrighteous, but also had no purpose except to exacerbate hostility."
For the sake of Aurelia and all the other innocent members of his family, he must accept His Highness' offer. Without the protection of the Elk Family, these people would not be able to live a stable life ever again.
After the pledge, the prince smiled and nodded. "In the following days, you and your sister can live in the castle. Petrov will arrange rooms for you. There are still a few members from other families that escaped who are fighting in the suburbs, so it's better for you to wait until this rebellion quiets down before returning to your territory."
"Yes, Your Highness."
As Rene left the study, Petrov followed.
Looking at his haggard friend, Rene felt a range of emotions. "I'm sorry..."
"It's not your fault." Petrov patted on his shoulder. "Don't worry about it."
Somehow, Rene felt his friend was a lot different. He could see in Petrov's eyes a look he had never seen before一a subtle resolution and calmness that was as strong as steel that had been repeatedly tempered with fire.
Rene realized that his friend was on his way to becoming a real leader.