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Reborn As The Villain

I was walking to the convenience store and the next moment I knew, I was inside the villain's body!? What is going on!? This world is known as the world of Star Fantasy, a popular RPG that dominated the gaming charts. Tournaments were held all over the world to celebrate the success of this game. The top ten guilds were invited for every tournament to recruit new talent for their teams. Liam was part of the third strongest guild in Star Fantasy.  He suddenly woke up as the son of one of the strongest knights in the empire. Arnold von Berkley, who will become one of the greatest villains in the story. He must find out if there are more of him out there. Was he the only one summoned? If so, how can he avoid his inevitable death?  By eliminating his death flags! -- If you would like to hear about any updates regarding my current stories, join my discord: https://discord.gg/zAj9ddMpD4. Currently on HIATUS You can ask anything. I might take suggestions as well. Chapter releases are three full chapters per week. Parts of a chapter will be released a day after each other. Paypal for donations: https://paypal.me/Immortal1217

Immortal_17 · Fantasy
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269 Chs

Chapter 151: Whitage City

The sun was at the highest point in the sky. The warm summer air became even warmer at noon. There was no shade on the highway so anyone not travelling in a carriage should wait out the heat.

Nobles have a convenient way of travelling even in heat. Regular warehouse carriages are normally poorly ventilated. Some don't even have windows or the windows are just really small, which allows only a bit of air inside. Unlike those carriages, the one Celeste was travelling in had a magic item that regulates heat.

'It's a little chilly in the carriage now that the airbox is on. Should I have worn something warmer?'

Celeste glanced out the window of her carriage.

She was expecting a barren land without much vegetation but her expectations were quickly shattered.

'So the absence of humans actually preserved the lands.'

Given how many people die in these lands, she was expecting undead to also roam the lands. Undead—like skeletons—often go to places that don't have strong monsters. This is to avoid being killed yet again. It's not like they have a will or anything, it's just instinct. They roam the lands without a purpose. 

Bandits are another problem in deserted lands. They often gather in places that have no knight orders or any legal protection.

'Did Al's advisor hire a unit of knights to get rid of the undead and bandits?'

"Oh?" Celeste noticed a group of people walking up the road with their farming tools, "Are those the people that live around the city?"

"Yes. I see them often when I escort people across the country," a voice came from above, "But this is strange. It seems like there's more people than the last time I came here."

"The family members of the nobles who plotted against the Berkley Family should've done their time already. So it can't be them."

The agreement was that the family members work the lands for three months. It had been four months so far so they shouldn't be here anymore.

"They must be from the mountain villages then, Lady Celeste. There are a lot of mountains surrounding this land so a majority of those villages should've brought their people here. This place has a better environment, after all. The only reason they never came here sooner was because of the danger of these lands—which have been dealt with."

"I see. The villages surrounding the city should have enough space for these people. I wonder if Al's advisor let these people in?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Hm?"

"You see, there's no wall or any kind of fence surrounding these outer villages, which means that the people from these little villages don't have citizenships. Look up ahead."

Celeste stuck her head out. She could see a wooden fence with a big gate. The gate was open, allowing entry to the people. Unlike the empire's four entry gates which were controlled and heavily guarded, the gate up ahead had no guards controlling the crowds at all. People can just go in as much as they want.

"There are six settlements inside the wall. I'm not sure how large the population is. Perhaps it has reached the thousands already. I've been encountering people on the road coming to this very city ever since the monster wave. I never had the chance to stop and ask why they would come to a ruined city but I can understand now. The city is growing even while it's in its restoration phase. I can tell that it will become much bigger under Lord Arnold's rule than the previous city lord. Hey, get out of the way!" the coachman suddenly shouted.

Celeste saw a girl with long silver hair walking with a basket in the middle of the road. Her shoulders jerked at the coachman's exclamation.

"S-Sorry!" The girl quickly jumped out of the way and apologized when they passed by her.

"Tch, damn commoner brat."

"Hold on. Stop the carriage. I want to let her climb onboard and join me."

"Are you sure, Lady Celeste? Not every person deserves your kindness."

"It's fine. The basket in her hands look too heavy for her to carry alone so stop the carriage."

"As you wish." The carriage came to a stop. The horses weren't walking that fast anyway since Celeste told the coachman to drive slowly so that she could take the scenery in.

Celeste opened up the door and peeked outside.

The girl stood in shocked silence, probably thinking that she was going to be punished or something. Some nobles tend to over-exaggerate over small matters. Even delaying their travelling a little is punishable to them. The reason they act like this was obvious—they want to force their power on those who are lower in status.

Celeste found that childish so she's never done those things, nor have her father and mother. She might've be a high-class criminal capable of destroying nations singlehandedly at a single command but that doesn't mean she enjoys using that power.

"That basket looks awfully heavy, darling. Would you like a ride to the city?"

"Eh?" the girl looked around in confusion, probably wondering who was Celeste talking to, "Uhm, are you talking to me, Milady?"

"Yes, I'm talking to you. I don't see anyone else carrying a basket."

"Uhm."

"Climb onboard. The city is still a little far." Celeste continued pestering the girl.

They still had to pass through the six settlements to get to the city.

The girl slumped her shoulders in defeat.

◇◇◇

The carriage ride was awfully silent.

Celeste glanced at the girl's hands.

'Hm, there are a few scratches on her hands. Her nails are also dirty.'

"May I feel your hands?"

"E-Eh? Uhm… Why?"

"Just give them here."

Celeste held the girl's hands when she stretched them towards her.

'It's rough. They feel like a farmer's hand.'

Celeste looked at the girl's hair. She could tell that the girl was well-groomed in her childhood given how clean the girl's hair was and how unblemished her skin was(besides her hands feeling like a man's hands, of course).

'She must be a hard worker.'

She was also really strong despite her feeble limbs. Celeste wouldn't be able to carry that basket even with two hands but the girl could carry it on her hip with one arm holding it.

"You know, it's customary to introduce yourself in the presence of strangers." Celeste let go of her hands.

"I-I'm terribly sorry, milady!" the girl bowed her head.

"So what is your name? My name is Celeste von Penston, the daughter of a marquis. I'm sure you've heard of Vance von Penston?"

"Yes! He's the empire's Sword Saint and a Great Noble. It's an honor being in your presence!" she bowed her head again.  

"So, what is your name?"

"I'm… My name is Bethany, milady. I'm honored to be receiving this carriage ride."

"I see. Tell me something, do you work on a farm?"

"Uhm, yes. I work on a farm that's owned by an orphanage."

"Orphanage? Why is there an orphanage in a city like this? The circumstances aren't favorable for one to exist." 

"Ah, no. I'm a former citizen of Nuaria city. We came here not too long ago. We had enough money to buy a plot of land. That plot of land happened to have a farmhouse which we could live in. We donate the crops we grow in the city to the small markets. We're not allowed to sell anything yet so we donate things like potatoes and lettuces which aren't that expensive."

"So, the basket you have there contains the crops you grew? The destruction of your city was almost a month ago so how did you manage to grow vegetables in that short amount of time?"

"We're not sure either. The Head Nun said that the land is so fertile that every sort of vegetable grows 50% faster than usual. Maybe a little faster depending on their usual growth."

'It sounds like this land isn't a wasteland after all. Judging by what she's saying, this land could have been home to many kind of magic crystals that released mana into the soil.'

Mana can influence how fast and large crops grow. This was proven by the Elves long ago. They live in a forest brimming with mana. The forest never lets them starve since so many kinds of fruit and vegetables grow there. The growth rate sometimes cause mutations in crops: vegetables are larger than usual, fruits change color and some even restore a small amount of mana.

The fact that mana can do these things give the World Tree Forest much more value than just being the oldest forest in the world.

'Is there a root of the World Tree underneath this land? No, that's impossible. If that were the case then other areas should've reported the same incidents that this land is experiencing. Interesting.'

"Do you live in the outskirts of the city?"

"Yes. Our farm is near here."

"How many of you are there exactly?"

"About fifty, excluding the nuns and myself. Well, we were more than half that number when we came here. There have been a lot of children who recently joined the orphanage. Despite the rich soil of the land, seeds are hard to come by so famines are common. A single potato seed could go for several silvers out here. The children are always the last of their families to survive since their parents give them whatever they find first. Starvation was the biggest problem in this land. We had no choice but to take them in and let them work on the farm. Everything has been going well despite how many we are now."

"If there are so many of you, why are you travelling alone? Why not pull a wagon together? I know it's an expensive vehicle for farmers like yourselves but it will surely help your farm transport large supplies of crops."

"We go in turns. One of the nuns came here this morning to deliver a fresh batch to the market in the city. I'm here on an afternoon run. Like I said earlier, the crops grow faster than we expected it would. The Head Nun suggested we buy a lot of seeds from the empire before we left. We currently have two barrels filled with all kinds of seed. It cost us a copper per kg."

"I see. It was smart of the Head Nun to buy seeds ahead of time given how scarce they are here."

"But things are going quite well. The people here were always too afraid to go into the forest where all sorts of fruits and of vegetables grow. The monster horde from before caused all kinds of horrific monsters to appear there. Everything changed after the city lord hired an entire order of elite knights to slay everything roaming in the forests and mountains."

"Oh?" Celeste raised an eyebrow, "Which House are the knights affiliated with?"

"I don't know exactly. All I know is that they come from somewhere in the southern lands."

'Southern lands… There aren't any large kingdoms south of the empire, only small nations like the Undead Nation, Burgadine Kingdom, Sacri Dynasty and a few others.'

They didn't have exceptional knight orders from what Celeste knew. Some had a small army of soldiers but not elite knights like the Empire's Imperial Knights or Holy Knights from the Theocracy.

'Only the Undead Nation stands out. But how can monsters wear armor and fight for a nation?'

The girl didn't mention anything about them having monster-like figures so they were most likely similar to humans. Or maybe they were undead or demons? Those were the only monsters that resembled humans.

"Why would Arnold von Berkley hire knights to clear out a forest? Wouldn't that be a waste of money?"

Celeste didn't do prior research so she had no idea what was going on in the city. She was much too busy with her work at the organization and studying for exams.

Asking locals what they knew about the city was the best thing to do. That was the reason why she offered the girl a carriage ride. 

"They are mining minerals. Most of the workers are regular humans who can't fight so they'll be in danger if they work too far from the city. The knights follow the workers into the forest to make sure nothing is plundered by bandits."

"Minerals…"

"The citizens believe that this is good news since it means that their city will be restored to how it was before."

"Indeed. It does sound like good news."

'I guess the city isn't useless to my House, after all.'

The carriage proceeded through the city's gates that didn't weren't even guarded.

"Where are the guards?" Celeste asked as she looked out the back window. The people were swarming the gates without a care in the world since no one was there to stop them from going inside.

"There weren't any originally, though. Even the fence around the village settlements are unguarded. But there's no need for people to worry."

"Why is that?"

"There are apparently a group in the shadows who are guarding the citizens. They only appear when there's a serious fight or when some suspicious individuals appear at the gate. A brawl actually happened earlier this week. One of the people was almost stabbed but a shadow caught the knife and subdued both fighters in an instant. Some say that it might be people from the Assassination Guild given their ability to move in the shadows."

'Why not just hire soldiers. If they can hire elite knights then it should be fine to hire guards.'

Being an elite knight is one of the most well-paid jobs in the empire. A rookie fresh out of the order can earn up to thousands of gold a month. Regular soldiers don't even make a tenth of what an elite knight makes but having a bunch of them monitor the gates was a good investment for any city. Of course there are ranks for soldiers determined by their years of experience but regular soldiers are enough if these so-called shadow guards are added to the mix.

The carriage suddenly came to a stop while Celeste was looking out the window.

"What's going on?" Celeste asked.

The coachman's voice came from above:

"The road is blocked, Lady Celeste."

"What? Who's blocking it?" Celeste stuck her head out the window, "?"

She saw hundreds of native people standing silently outside the city lord's manor. They didn't move an inch even as the citizens were shouting at them.

The reason Celeste saw them as natives were because they were wearing clothes made from animal hide. Many of them also wore animal heads while others had bird feathers in their hair.

"Who are these people?" Celeste asked Bethany when she pulled her head back inside.

The girl quickly looked out to see what Celeste was talking about.

"They are people from the mountain villagers…"

"Do you know why they're here?"

"I'm not sure. But they've been coming here nearly every day in small groups. This is the first time I'm seeing this many of them."

"Hmm… Algrod, I'll get off here." Celeste spoke to the coachman.

"Are you certain, My Lady? I can find another route into the manor's estate."

"No, this'll do." Celeste opened the door and climbed out.

Bethany hurriedly followed.

"They're just standing here in silence. What's up with these people?"

"Uhm, I should get going, Lady Celeste."

"Hm? That's a shame. I wanted to hear some more things about the land from you."

"I'm terribly sorry. I need to get back to work. Thank you for taking me this far."

The girl smiled.

Celeste patted her shoulder before saying to Algrod:

"Take her where she needs to go and get her back to her farm, Algrod."

"A-Ah, that's unnecessary, Lady Celeste! I-I can walk!"

"It's fine, dear. This is just my thanks to you."

"But—"

"Rejecting me twice is hurting my heart, you know?"

The girl's shoulder drooped.

"T-Thank you."

"Off you go then."

The girl soon boarded the carriage again. Algrod seemed unhappy but he didn't voice his displeasure to Celeste. The carriage left soon after.

'Now then, I'll need to go speak with this advisor and get to the bottom of this.'