Chapter 2 “Illiterate and can’t fight”
The day of triumphant return.
While the imperial capital was basking in celebration, the Earl’s mansion was the total opposite in how deadly quiet it was. No celebration party, no welcoming ceremony, not even a simple dinner was present.
After leaving the harbor, the Earl hurried back to his manor and rejected every guest that came to visit him. The reason to these bootlickers were that after three years out at sea, he needed some personal space to soothe the loneliness in his wife.
Even though this disappointed the guests, no one can refute this reason.
Inside the Earl’s mansion, the kingdom’s hero and his son was staring at each other.
The look in his eyes were deep, depressing, and complex. If he didn’t firmly believe his wife never cheated on him, he might have really questioned if this little thing before him was his son.
The reason was because the boy’s face and build were vastly different from the Earl’s. The men in the Rowling family are famous for their image of masculinity. A typical Rowling man would have a big body, wide chest, bulked arms, squared face, and the look of a hero. At least the Earl looked like this.
But this little guy…
Even though he’s only three years old, but for a family famed for their powerful and strong physique, this kid was too white and too skinny. Perhaps it’s because he was sick a month ago, maybe that’s the explanation for all this.
The three year old Earl’s heir, Du Wei Rowling, looked at his father with indifference in his eyes. Unlike the kids of his age, he didn’t cry. This greatly disappointed the Earl. According customs, the louder a child cries, the stronger they will become.
Yet, this boy was a little too quiet. Sitting on the bed, he just sat there with his hands on his knees and stared at him with an inspecting look of curiosity.
The Earl thought to himself: I must be mistaken, how can a child’s eye have such complexity?
While the Earl was a little gloomy, Du Wei’s feelings were even more complex.
The mature and beautiful Countess had softened Du Wei’s heart with the events that happened before, but this ‘father’ that suddenly appeared…
“He… really can’t talk?” The Earl asked his wife with a stern expression.
Facing the gaze going her way, the Countess’s eyes began tearing up.
Seeing this, the Earl’s expression softened. He thought to himself: There’s nothing to blame on this poor woman even if their son became like this. He was gone for three years and left his wife alone during the birthing process, a time where a woman needs her husband the most.
The Earl spoke softly, “My love, we will hire the wisest teacher in the kingdom. He will most certainly be able to speak one day. But his body is too weak. The Rowling family built their reputation through battles and victories and my son will follow my path to become a great general! He can’t be this weak, he’s already three. I think it’s time we find him an instructor. After a few years of body training, he should bulk up like the rest. What do you think of Alpha? Not only is he my trusted guard, his combat skills are high and there’s no question about his loyalty to the family. I think starting next month we can have Alpha teach Du Wei some basic training techniques.”
Upon hearing her poor son will have to train at such a young age, tears began pouring down again, “But.. He’s still so young.”
“It’s because his body is weaker than others that he must train. Only by doing so will he make up for his insufficiencies; otherwise, how can he inherit the Rowling family?!” The Earl firmly made his stance and decided this.
The following day after meeting the king and receiving his third 1st class medal, the king then promoted Earl Raymond as the kingdom’s vice general for all his contributions to the empire. Prior to his departure from the palace, many – including those from the Temple of Light – invited the Earl to talk but were indiscriminately rejected.
Raymond Rowling’s son was retarded; this was no secret in the imperial capital. Everyone can see the gloom on the Earl’s face during the celebration ceremony.
Back at home, the Earl and his son were staring at each other for the second time. However, the Earl’s wife wasn’t present this time around. The only outsider was Alpha, a loyal follower of the Earl for over twenty years and a master swordsman famed for his “Flowing Flame sword”.
Unlike the Countess that loved her son, Earl Raymond had an unexplainable dislike of this child because he felt the gaze coming off from the boy wasn’t as hollow as it seems, there’s a hint of resistance in there. But then he thought to himself it was all his imagination: What can a three year old boy know? Moreover, he’s been away at war since the child was born so it’s only natural his kid would be distant from him.
Captain Alpha first made a proper knight salute before kneeling down in front of Du Wei’s bed. Then with both hands, this loyal follower of the Earl began to remove the boy’s clothes and started to touch the young master from top to bottom. Du Wei seems to dislike this sudden invasion. Try as he might though, his puny body wasn’t enough to resist the strength of a first class swordsman.
“Pheww…..”Alpha gave a long sigh and puts Du Wei down. Then facing the Earl, he slightly bows his head and said, “Lord Earl, I…”
“Alpha, you are my most trusted person. Don’t hesitate too much and say whatever’s on your mind.”
“Master Du Wei’s body is very weak, and it seems like he was born…. deficient. His body structure is small and his heartbeat is weak. Such a constitution is even worse than the average person. If he is to go down the path of a warrior, I fear…..” Alpha grits his teeth: “He won’t accomplish much in the future.”
“Then what’s your opinion?”
“My opinion is that he shouldn’t practice martial art. Why don’t we see if he has talent in other fields?”
And with that, the Earl’s face darkened.
The Earl was disappointed for a few days after having his hope dashed. But under his wife’s comforting words, he cheered up a bit. After all, this child was his only son.
Although the Rowling Family was built on the reputation of being powerful warriors, historically, there’s been one or two ancestors that were famed for their ingenuity and outstanding intellect. Like his son, these ancestors didn’t fare well in combat, but they were unequalled when it came to logistics and management of the battlefield.
Who said a great general has to be in the front lines with his men? One can also bring glory to the family by being magnificent in the background.
If he can’t learn to fight, then let’s educate him in literature.
But then how can a child that doesn’t even know how to speak learn literature? Even if you hire the wisest scholar in the kingdom, you have to at least make the child talk first.
Differing from the Countess’s motherly heart, Earl Raymond always had an irking sensation that told him his son knew how to speak; he just didn’t want to talk. The more he saw his son, the more he felt that this child wasn’t retarded, more like someone that’s rejected this world.
There’s bound to be a brave soul willing to come forward if the reward’s high enough.
With this in mind, the Earl puts up a huge reward around the imperial city. No matter the background, whoever’s able to make his child speak a word will be rewarded a thousand gold pieces.
The sensational news immediately spread across the capital and attracted a wide variety of people to come forward – there were even a few bards from far off places. These people tried everything from playing a flute for a whole afternoon, to banging next to his ears, to scaring him when he wasn’t cautious, one even wanted to throw the boy into a river thinking he will ask for help, of course the last one was thrown out of the manor.
The whole event became a hot topic in the imperial capital. Yet, this difficult problem was accidentally solved by the servant named Marde.
Marde was a simple old man. The method he came up with was to bring Du Wei to the stable. Normal children would be interested in animals, that was his thought. This method was simple but there’s no risk in trying. So the Earl agreed.
Upon entering the stable…
The stable hand that took over Marde’s job was being lazy the last few days and hadn’t cleaned it. Therefore, when Marde and Du Wei walked in, a horrible stink rushed up their noses and sent the pair running out as soon as possible.
Like a reflex reaction, Du Wei muttered something in a low voice, “That smell is killing me.”
And with that, Marde was rewarded a thousand gold coins and even the lazy stable hand got 20 gold pieces for not cleaning.
From then on, the Earl was certain his defeated faced son was deliberately not talking!
“He is your teacher from this day forward.” The Earl said this to his son while pointing at a white robed old man: “This is Mr. Rosia. He has the title of Astrologist and is also proficient in history.” (Someone that can read the future by looking at the stars)
In the beginning, Mr. Rosia completed his job remarkably. After a year’s teaching, Du Wei can already read and write. Even though it’s not too rare for a child to know how to write at four, it’s still uncommon.
For a while, the Earl thought: maybe his child really is a genius?
However, when Du Wei reached the age of five, even Mr. Rosia encountered a difficult problem. That night he had a long conversation with the Earl.
“Lord Earl, please hire someone else.” This old scholar spoke with a face of defeat. “Your son is a genius. An old man like me doesn’t have the energy to teach such a student……”
Seeing the scholar’s face, the Earl’s heart dropped a beat. He can guess what the scholar meant by genius. If even this wise scholar can’t teach his son, then…
“But, Mr. Rosia….” The Earl spoke with a sullen face.
“No, no. Lord Earl.” The old scholar had a look full of unease: “Please, don’t ask me to stay. I am not qualified for such a difficult job.” The scholar said it with a firm voice.
The Earl could only bitterly laugh inside: is teaching my son such a daunting task? If such a well learned scholar like Mr. Rosia can’t do it then who is he supposed to go ask?
In actual fact, Mr. Rosia was really afraid inside when looking at the dark gloomy face of the Earl.
Aigh, phrases like “The sun and the moon are just two big spheres,” can still be taken as a child’s immature thought. But then if a five year old tells you “the reason for corruption in the empire is because of the excess centralization of political power”, then such an opinion was enough to make a scholar like him skip a beat!
The truth was after teaching Du Wei for a whole year, this scholar knew full well that the child wasn’t retarded like the rumors says. He’s very smart, more so than any children of his age. But opinions like political power can’t come from a child like this no matter how smart he was. Therefore, the scholar assumed these words had come from the Earl and was overheard by the child. The Earl has huge military power and was the second person in command of the whole army. If such a person was not content with the royal house, then…
Mr. Rosia was just a scholar. He didn’t want to be part of a political war.
The Earl finally agreed to let the scholar leave after seeing how adamant Mr. Rosia was, “Is my son really hopeless?” The Earl thought to himself:
Du Wei was standing by the window in his room when he watched the scholar leave.
Probably because of the unpleasant expression on Du Wei’s face, Marde called out, “Young master.” Ever since Marde managed to get the young master to talk, this former stable hand has been serving as Du Wei’s personal attendant.
“Marde.” Du Wei did not turn his head, but from the tone of his voice, it’s obvious his spirit wasn’t high: “Do you think ignorance is a blessing?”
“Ughh?” Marde didn’t know how to respond. He was not educated in any way, so when his little master asked, there’s no way for him to know the answer. Ignorance? Is the little master troubling over himself?
“Forget it.” Du Wei turns his head around, his little face smudged with a touch of fatigue.
Relative to the people of this world, I know too much. I know why the sun and moon exists, why there are days and nights, why there are four seasons.
But it’s precisely because of all this knowledge that I’m troubled. Perhaps in this world, ignorance is a bliss!
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