Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Volume 2 - Chapter 9 - Trial and Tribulation (Middle)

The fat youth put his right hand on his struck cheek in disbelief while the Captain dismounts. Her emerald-coloured eyes shining brilliantly between narrowed slits, they are further contrasted as her figure is shadowed by the sun at her back.


Fueled by humiliation, fear, anger and a mix of other emotions, Nikolas rushes in with an overhand slash.


“Insolent child, didn’t anyone teach you dueling etiquette?” The Captain casually back-steps out of range of the strike and draws a weapon from within the belt, which was acting as a sheath. In the same motion, she grabs a sai that’s tucked into the same belt.

[T/N: Sai is a blunt, 3 pronged weapon used in certain eastern Martial Arts, it’s known for their strength and ability as a swordbreaker. I think Raphael from TMNT uses them if you need a reference (I don’t know my turtles that well, so it could be Michaelangelo for all I know :P]


She gives a quick, sharp whistle, causing her mount to trod off to the side. Unlike the opponent, she chose non-bladed, non-lethal weapons used for subduing someone. Holding the short, stout sai in her left hand in front while holding a drooping, semi-rigid, tapered rod in her right over her head, she looks like a beastmaster about to tame a boar.


The fat youth tries to slash his sword in an upswing as he steps forward, following his overhand strike. Unfortunately for him, the Captain also steps in and catches his sword with the sai, locking it.

*hyu* *PA* *PA*

In a fluent motion, she swings the upheld right hand clockwise in a semi-circle before swinging it sideways. The rod acts like a whip, swinging around the youth’s side before striking him in the rear end, causing him to jump. Using this moment of weakness, she twist her left wrist and diverts the sword to the side. Once again, she swings the rod in a semi-circle, this time striking the youth’s left shin.


Grinding his teeth, he rushes forward with a horizontal slash from his right side. The Captain deftly flips the sai around into a backhand grip while stepping in and blocks the blade once again. Expecting this, Nikolas release his left hand from the sword and swings a backhand hammer fist at her head.


Giving off a scoff, the Captain ducks while swinging the rod, striking him in the rear again. “At least you are not completely brainless. Then again, they do say pigs can be smart once in a while.”

*WAAAAAA* *fu-* *fyu* *fyu* *fyu*

Screaming wildly, Nikolas tries to swing his left hand down to hammer her in the head while he slides his blade out of the sai by drawing it back, before unleashing a flurry of quick strikes from various angles. The Captain dodges out of the way, giving herself a wide margin.

“My turn.”

*hyu* *kan* *PA* *hyu* *kan* *PA* *hyu* *kan* *PA* *hyu* *PA* *hyu* *PA* *hyu* *PA* …

The Captain launches three consecutive strikes with the rod -an overhand, a horizontal backhand and a downward backhand- which all ended up being blocked by the sword. But it proved futile as the tapered end of the rod swings around each time, striking the youth on the top of the head, the upper right arm and the right shin respectively. Following the third strike, she whips the rod around and smashes it into the youth’s right wrist, destroying his grip. She finishes him off as he tries to turtle up with his arms with multiple lashes all over his body, butt, legs, and even one on his face before smashing the rod on his left hand, causing him to drop his sword.

The guards, the demihumans and the children look on in awe, while the rest of the escorts can only grimace since they recall the sparring drills they had to go through. The youth sobs quietly as he glares at the Captain, with red marks all over his body and his trouser -especially the backside- in tatters.


Armoured troops with shields surround the area as their heavy footsteps fills the air.

*dakaka dakaka* *dou* *hihiiiin*

A squad of cavalry follows the troops before the one in front stops his galloping horse, which starts neighing in protest.

“What’s going on here? Who called for the backup?” The figure squints his eyes at the guards with the children, demihumans and finally the two isolated figures on the dirt road. “Brother?”

“Um… There’s just some misunderstanding, Sir Mikhal!” The old captain of the guard stands at attention and salutes before reporting. The rest of the guards wipe their mouths clean and do the same. The children look up at the youth, in shining armour dyed crimson by the setting sun, in admiration.

The blonde youth takes another look around before holding up his right hand, causing one of the cavalry to ride up to him. After some hushed whispers, the troops proceed to march away, leaving Mikhal and his riders alone with the group.

*ka ka ka ka ka ka*

Slowly trodding his horse toward the two lone figures, one standing aloof while the other is holding his right wrist, he tries to understand the scene before him. The guards on the other hand, start picking up their short spears while urging the gawking children, still holding onto their eggs, to go home.

“Brother?” Mikhal has to squint his eye to make sure he is seeing things properly, the figure in front of him is bruised and in tatters, but there’s no mistaking that unique girth within the entire kingdom of Sardon. He dismounts before making his way before them, leading his horse by its rein.

The tear-covered face of the fat youth shifts his glare from the lady with the fox ears toward the new comer. “Get away from me, you bastard.” Nikolas gingerly picks up his sword before limping away.

[T/N: 荒種 literally translates to wild seed, I’m not familiar with this term nor is it in any dictionaries nor cursory google search, I do know 野種 also means wild seed, with the meaning of illegitimate child in chinese, so I assume it’s the same thing, hence “you bastard”.]

Seeing the incompetent child moving away, the Captain slides the flexible rod back into her belt sheath until the cross-guard fits snugly into the slot next to her waist. She casually slides her sai into place while walking up to the mounted knight.

“What happened here?”

“Well, greetings to you too, Sir Knight.” The Captain’s eyes narrow once more before replying sarcastically. “Do your kingdom’s soldiers have a habit of accusing others of eating children before attacking them?”

The guard from before runs next to the youth, leans down and whispers into his ears. The youth makes a difficult face before the guard finally backs away. The guard gives the demihumans an apologetic bow with a smile before leaving with his squad while clutching some eggs in a woven basket.

“Certainly not, Captain…?”


“Captain Vera, I apologize for the accusation and resulting consequences.” The youth makes a sweeping bow with his arms before standing back straight. Although he’s considerably shorter than everyone else, he has an awkward sort of grace.

The Captain relaxes her guard and smiles. “And here I thought all you leading types are useless meatheads.”

“Captain, Mikhal.” De’muel walks past the riders and greets both of them, while the rest of the demihumans return to the campfire.



“I guess all of us are hungry, care to join us for dinner?”

* * * * *

“Wow, a lot happened since you last visited us, congratulations on becoming knighted!”

“Thank you, I will be joining you guys with the Royal Princes and Princess in a short while. I didn’t know the Academy got a permit to trade here though… wait… are you guys the ones that supplied our King with the tea a while back?” Mikhal leans in before whispering. “Anything good that I can get off of you guys? Like these eggs here, how come I didn’t see this the last time I was at the Academy?”

De’muel looks at Mak’ra, who looks back meaningfully.

“Coming through.” The two move out of the way as Mikhal leans back, while Laum sets an egg vertically on a cup before carefully cracking the top open.

“Eh… What are you doing, Laum?” De’muel wants to resume the talk of trade as soon as possible and strike while the iron is hot.

“Shh…” The rat-tailed teenager carefully takes the top part of the egg white off after removing the shell, placing the piece in a bowl nearby. Inside the fist sized egg, the golden yellow yolk peeks through. After sprinkling on some salt, flower petals, and a clear mixture of liquid, he stirs the viscous liquid with the wooden spoon. Kalmi hands him a small piece of bread as if on cue and he scrapes the spoon on it before eating it whole. He chews it thoroughly before giving a nod, puts the spoon into the egg that is still partially in its shell and leaves as quickly as he came. Kalmi gives De’muel, Mak’ra and Mikhal each a quarter loaf of bread before moving onto the next group.

The three of them look at the cook with raised eyebrows before looking at the piece of bread. Shrugging, Mikhal is the first one to scoop a large spoon of the soft-boiled egg onto the bread before taking a bite. A faint fragrance, with a sweet, mellow, rich, savoury flavour fills his mouth. The soft, light texture melts right into the bread, enhancing the bread’s natural flavour without overpowering it.

[T/N: 半熟卵 is half-cooked egg, I’m PRETTY sure it is soft-boiled egg, someone correct me if I’m wrong]


Groans of delight can be heard from elsewhere near the campfire where the rest of the cavalry are eating with the demihumans. The youth touches his nose with his first knuckle a few times before giving his lip a quick lick.

“Wow, okay, you guys definitely have to sell me some of these.”

De’muel and Mak’ra quickly try a scoop for themselves, temporarily forgetting themselves.


The bull-horned youth coughs lightly to regain his composure. “Of course, we have a bunch in stock right now. 20 coppers for an egg, or a barrel of 60 for 11 silvers. The tea is a gold a bag, a bag can make about 600-800 cups. 1/2 a bag for 60 silvers, and 40 silvers for a quarter bag. The zinnia flowers are not that much different from fresh herbs, so about 3 coppers a bundle. Of course, we will provide you with the recipes.” De’muel smiles before getting another spoonful of the soft-boiled egg for his rapidly diminishing piece of bread.

A typical serf family can survive on a silver a day, while a decent meal without much mutton at a tavern costs about 30 coppers, 50 coppers if you want to have mutton with it. So after factoring markup and labour costs, De’muel was able to estimate the cost of meat per meal. Him previously visiting all the various shop within the Merchant Quarters also allowed him to further adjust his earlier calculations into the pricing scheme within the city. This leads to him adjusting the costs of the eggs upwards to slightly beneath the cost of mutton.

“Can I get a deal if I buy more?” Mikhal licks his fingers after finishing the egg and bread course, after the bowl of potherbs.

“How much more?”

“Let’s see… there’s mother, nana, the aunties across, the various guests… hmm… how long can these keep for?”

“The tea can last at least a year, we’ve never kept any tea longer than that. The eggs can be stored to last for about a month, the zinnia flowers lasts a dozen days at most.”

“Okay, how about 3 bags of tea, a barrel of eggs and dozen bundles of zinnia?”

De’muel closes his eyes for a moment to do some mental math. “How does 3 gold, 10 silvers and 50 coppers sound?”

Mikhal likewise closes his eye to do the math. “Hmm… some free eggs and flowers, sounds good.”

Kalmi casually sets down 3 mugs of tea on a wooden platter next to the 3 would-be merchants. Without a word, the three gives the tea a blow before taking a sip.

“The apothecaries must be going crazy from this.” Mikhal scrunches his brows before taking another sip of the tea. “This is a little different… Sweet… and fruity?”


The rat-tailed teenager with the rattail runs over after serving the group that he was with.

“Yes, De’muel-ni?”

“What did you do with the tea? Bring our guest a normal one!”

“Eh? I just added some honey and steeped fruit peels, I’ll change it right away.” Laum starts reaching over for the blonde youth’s mug.

“Huh? What? Nono, this is great! Sorry to bother you. And thanks for the great meal.” Mikhal hold his free hand up and smiles.

The teenager looks at De’muel and Mak’ra with a questioning look before shrugging and heads off.

“Wait… what did you say about apothecaries just now?” Mak’ra turns to the blonde youth as the implication sinks in.

“Yeah, they should be going crazy. You folks brought in something better and cheaper than those bitter herbal tonics, brews, teas and what not.” Mikhal makes a disgusted face as he recalls their flavour. “And this tea of yours doesn’t need a dispensing ratio and what not. I’ve seen you guys drink this stuff, so I know there’s no side effects too. I am surprised they didn’t buy every single bag of yours, I mean, this stuff has gotten pretty famous since His Majesty started drinking it during morning court.”

De’muel can only look at Mak’ra listlessly at that comment.

“Oh yeah, before I forget, here’s my address.” Mikhal starts drawing a rough sketch onto the ground as the two look on. The sounds of chatter and the occasional laughter by the various small groups of people around the campfire fill the early evening air.


  1. So it seems it was the apothecaries who are preventing the sales.

    1. Now it'll be interesting to see what they do with that information (as well as what result the children and guards eating with them will have).

      Thanks for the chapter.

  2. Trade protectionism is an old old concept

  3. On the "half-cooked egg", yes that would be a soft boiled egg. I assumed they were like Ostrich eggs from the description here, and follow a recipe I think I saw on food network with the Ostrich eggs (similar don't remember other than the how to break, salt and pepper). Though from earlier in the story descriptions, I first thought large Duck eggs in size, though I think there's a similar type of recipe there, just I think there's not enough to share one with a few there though. Large Duck egg = aprox. size of 3 in. by 5 in., Ostrich egg = 6 in. by 8 in. aprox., hope that helps but the sizes are an approximation based on a TV image. Again that would be a soft boiled egg, jelly / jam like whites (liquid but small chunks /clumps) warm but still liquid yoke in simple terms.

    1. i think goose egg, thanks for this!!

    2. Well, in french there are at least two types of egg cooking that are translated by "solf-boiled eggs". There is exactly this : the "half-cooked", where the yolk is totally liquid, and sometimes part of the white, and the "soft boiled" where the white is solid, and the yolk is half-cooked: with a gel-like consistance and sometimes the edges of the yolk is fully cooked.
      I expect that in this case chinese also have different terms that enter into the very wide "soft-boiled" definition of english.

  4. Yes, Raphael uses Sai. His are pointed and can cut, though, but then cartoons will be cartoons.

  5. Requesting currency exchange rate.


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