Meeting Legg Again
The heat radiating from the brazier was really comfortable. Leguna looked at his surroundings and found that it was even more derelict than he expected.
The various skull decorations, fur seats and linen tent gave him the impression that the barbarians led harsh lives. But even though they were not seen to be members of the same race by humans, they did look rather similar in terms of outer appearance, apart from being larger on average. Leguna thought that they would at least be more civilized than the orcs.
But after seeing the majestic orc capital, Ogrimma, this tent was far too shabby for him. At least the orcs managed to build their own cities with stone that could number a few storeys tall.
But the barbarians didn't have anything. It was all snow and nothing else. Even though some of them have stone houses, their scale was far smaller. They couldn't even build multiple-storied buildings. It was no wonder the humans looked down on them.
However, it probably had less to do with their intelligence being inferior to the orcs' but rather the harsh environment in which they lived. While orcs used to be impoverished, at least they had some farmland to cultivate and even rear some livestock. But the barbarians couldn't grow anything in the icy highlands, to say no less to having pastures for livestock to grace. It was already rather impressive they managed to even survive.
That was the reason the barbarians couldn't truly develop as a civilization despite having intelligence comparable to the orcs.
Perhaps the most laughable part of all that was they thought themselves to be the mightiest race in the world from their narrow tunnel vision. Even if they were weaker than humans, they believed the gap wasn't wide.
"This place is indeed much harsher compared to the human realm." That was the first thing Legg said when Leguna entered the tent. He stood up from his seat when he saw the guests enter.
Legg's height of 2.3 meters was frightening even among barbarians. His body looked like a hill to Leguna. The Blood-colored Wargod Kreighdon in comparison looked like a mountain.
"Long time no see," Leguna said, not adding to the topic Legg brought up. What else could he say? If he agreed, he might come off as arrogant. If he didn't, he would be duplicitous.
"That's true. It's been long." Legg's eyes centered on the coachman beside Leguna, much to his terror. However, Leguna was aware of his glass eye condition and knew that he was actually looking at him.
It's such a shame. You should get a priest treat your eye on our side. Even though you're king now, it wouldn't do for you to have such a laughable look, would it? Leguna thought. He sighed and went straight to business. "Alright, let's talk about why I've come."
"Does it need to be said? You're here to negotiate me into stopping our southern invasion, yes?" Legg said plainly.
Leguna didn't think he would be so direct. He was caught slightly off guard. He nodded somewhat pensively. "That's basically it. What is your opinion on that matter?"
Legg kept his silence and left the question hanging. He stepped outside the tent slowly and looked at the snow falling incessantly outside without a word.
"Hey!" Leguna cried out with some dissatisfaction. Legg was way taller than Leguna and the latter had to look up to see his face. The pressure he felt from doing so unnerved him somewhat. He walked to Legg and asked, "What are you thinking?"
After some silent mulling, Legg sighed. "Give me five days."
"What I mean is--" he uncrossed his arms, "--since you're already here, you might as well rest here for a few days. What do you think about holding the negotiation after that?"
"What?" Leguna narrowed his eyes. He suspected that Legg would be up to something. Would he be leading his army down south during that time? It would be a problem if that was the case.
"I'm not up to anything," Legg said with a shrug, not knowing exactly what thoughts Leguna was now having, "You humans have a saying called 'returning the favor', right? Since I was given hospitality when I was in the human realm, I want to offer you mine in return. Is that alright?"
"Hospitality?" Leguna shuddered. "I know I beat you up quite badly the last time. You aren't planning to get back at me using this chance, are you?"
"How could I?" The huge man said with a chortle. He looked at the goat skull decoration behind Leguna and said, "I had a great time during our fight. It was the best fight I ever had in all nineteen years of my life. I don't hate you for it. In fact, I'm looking forward to the next time we fight."
"Forget it! I don't want to get hurt like last time! I might even end up disfigured!"
"Even though you have the kind of strength to stand at the top of the world, you're actually afraid of getting hurt?" Legg look genuinely confused. Scars weren't bad for barbarians. Instead, they were marks of pride. He didn't understand what was there to fear about disfiguration.
"Hey, what do you think I am? I'm no masochist. Who would love to get beat up? Then again... nineteen years... Wait, did I get that right?"
"What's wrong?" Legg's eyeballs moved.
"You mean to say that you're only nineteen?" Leguna asked hesitantly.
"Is there a problem with that?"
Leguna looked at the bushes on the man's face and chest and touched his own chin. The hairs on his own face were still soft and light. As for chest hair... Leguna's was practically invisible. The only thing he could proudly call his symbol of masculinity was his leg hair.
"Tsktsktsk..." Leguna clicked his tongue in awe, "I really didn't imagine you were that young. I always thought you were around thirty or forty. You're really only nineteen? That means you're not that much older than I am."
"Our ancestors teach that age isn't important. Strength is," Legg calmly said.
"Yes, yes, yes... Strength is the best. Well, you're also a gifted after all. It wouldn't really make sense if you were at the 14th-stratum during the tournament as a middle-aged man..." But that thought only triggered another suspicion in his mind.
Leguna, Annelotte, Alissanda, Saron, Legg and Farsi, the magus of the Eye Annelotte killed, were all gifted. Oddly enough, all of them were of rather similar age. They were born a year or two after Hocke's founding. Was that merely a coincidence? Or was there some deeper connection in all that?
Leguna thought about Annelotte's birthday. After his incessant questioning, Marolyt revealed that she was born during the 25th of the 12th month on the first year Hocke was founded. Annelotte was only slightly older then he was.
Legg recalled that the old man told him that he was picked up during the 4th month of the second year. He seemed to be a full month old back then. n other words, his birth was still within two years the empire was founded. He was only a few months younger than Annelotte.
When he first found out about it, he felt a little depressed. It wasn't that he didn't like the idea of the girl he liked being older than him. It's just that he promised Annelotte he would protect her like an elder brother would a younger sister. Looking back, it almost seemed that the older sister was merely going along with a younger brother's whims.
"What are you thinking about?" Legg said after seeing Leguna zone out.
"Oh, it's nothing." Leguna shook his head awkwardly. He was quite impressed with how easily his mind wandered from one topic to a wholly unrelated one.
"Does my age really bother you?"
"No. It's just an odd coincidence." He smiled and decided to forget that matter. It wasn't that anything would come up from that anyway. His time would be better spent actually doing his duty.
"Is that so?" Legg didn't pursue the matter either. He rolled his eyes and said, "Then, what's your decision? I only want you to see how we live here, nothing else."
"You promise?" Leguna knew that while Legg was powerful, he wasn't someone to scheme and plot. After hearing about their similar age, he felt more inclined to trust him.
"I promise in the name of my ancestors," he said solemnly.
"Alright, I suppose staying here for five more days won't hurt," Leguna said as he turned back and nodded.
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