Everyone has gathered near the fort. We are all nervously waiting for the time. We watch the sentries on top of the rampart. They are yawning every once in while.
“They are moving.”
One of us suddenly points at one part of the rampart. The sentries over there are talking with someone behind them. Soon, the other sentries gather at more parts of the rampart. Judging by that, there should be stairways or ladders at those places.
“Erwin, go over there. There shouldn’t be any sentries. You have a short time frame to get in. The rest of you, scatter according to our plan.” (Harold)
“Be careful and bring her back.” (Mary)
“Don’t worry. Just check my status and whereabouts with the bracelet.” (Erwin)
“Will your coms open?” (Mary)
“No. I don’t want to have any sound that might give away my position.” (Erwin)
“Go. The guards are gone.” (Harold)
“I am going.” (Erwin)
I wave my hand and activate my camouflage. Then I run across the short plain to the fort. According to Harold’s explanation, I have five to ten minutes to get in.
Soon after I reach the wall, I throw a hook up. Then I climb up with the help of my suit. When I reach the top, I listen to the voices on the rampart then I pull myself up.
I recover my hook and survey my surrounding. To my left are five sentries walking towards me from afar while chatting. There is nothing on my right. I slowly crawl to the edge of the rampart to the right.
Below me is a small wooden wall shed. Whether or not there is someone inside, I have to go down to avoid the sentries up here. I put my hands on the edge of the rampart and slowly climb down.
I release my hands from the rampart at the shortest distance to the shed as to create as few noises as possible. As soon as I step on the shed, I drop to a prone position. I carefully survey my surrounding once again.
This part of the fort has a lot of small wall sheds like the one I am on. I carefully place my ear to hear the inside. Unfortunately there is no sound in it. Or should I say fortunately?
I look towards a shed nearby. There is no window on the side. I look around and see that those sheds also didn’t have any window. Sighing at the fact that I have to use my battery reserves this quickly, I change my goggles to scanner.
Most of the sheds don’t have any movement. Most likely these are tools, weapons, or food storage. I look around the sheds and eventually find a larger shed with slight movements every once in a while. There are quite a few people inside judging by the movement.
I mark that shed and look around once again. As there is no more point of interest here, I look towards other parts of the fort.
Opposite my position is a group of large buildings. A lot of people are walking around that part. They are sitting around bonfires scattered around the area. They are drinking and making noises.
There are also people who got too drunk and collapsed. Their friends brought them to the buildings behind them so they should be their barracks. There is a large shed in the center.
I look to the right and find the gate leading to the outside. The guard posts on top and below are quiet but there are still a lot of sentries there. Up on the wall, there are around ten sentries. Four of which are in the archer tower. On other walls beside the gate side there are fewer sentries.
I look to my left. There is a large mansion, enclosed by low wall right in front of the gate. A few carriages are parked inside the front yard. A group of soldiers are standing around the carriages chatting.
An alarm sounds out in my head. No one has told me that there are now more people inside the fort. I silently convey it to Mary outside the fort through the bracelet message system.
Mary answers shortly after. She said that the scouts didn’t know about it. They said that they must have slip in through a secret door.
‘Seriously? There are carriages and many guards and they can slip in unnoticed?’
I count the approximate number of guards near the mansion. Around twenty to thirty people.
My rifle bullets are barely enough for the total number of bandits here. Also, I can’t guarantee I can kill them all with one shot each. I grip my rifle harder.
‘I mustn’t be found.’
The center part of the fort is an empty field. It is likely a rallying spot. I look around once again to ensure I didn’t miss any information. I then convey “Prepare for emergency” to Mary outside. After receiving a confirmation, I look towards the only shed with people here.
I slowly climb down and walk silently in the shadow of the sheds. Occasionally there are some patrolling sentries come by but they seldom get inside the area. I reach the shed without much problem and effort.
The door is locked and there is only a small window on the side. It is high up near the ceiling. I search for a box nearby and carefully move it over. I peek inside through the window.
The shed is very dark and smelly. There are some groans coming out once in awhile. Rattling sounds of metal can also be heard. I get back to the door right after.
I take out a small pin and play around with the lock. This is a simple lock so I should be able to break it open. While watching my surrounding, I carefully try to open it.
After five minutes....
I give up. I put the pin back into my pocket. I look around to see if there is anyone around. Then I pull out my sidearm with its silencer attached. I cover the silencer with a cloth to conceal the flash.
Then I get a bundle of straws scattered on the ground and place it under the lock. After confirming that I won’t make much noises, I aim at the lock and open fire.
The lock is busted and drops to the straws. Slowly I open the door. As soon as I opened it, the bad smell drifts out of the shed. I step inside quickly and close it so the smell won’t alert the sentries.
There are a lot of cages inside the shed. The people inside stare at me with frightful eyes. They are covered only with rags and are chained to the wall. The males and females are on the opposite sides of the shed.
I surpass the urge to scowl. There aren’t anything the villagers nor I can do for them right now. My only priority now is Alishia. I move to the women cages directly. No need to even look for her in the men cages.
I walk through the entire women cages. There are some beautiful women but their lifeless eyes are creepy. The rest are not that ‘dead’ but their skinny hands are shaking and pale. Some even have bandages around their hands.
Even until I reach the end of the cages, I can’t find Alishia. I heave a small relief sigh as she is not inside this dirty shed but the question will be where she is now. After one last look around, I lift my seemingly heavy legs outside the shed and close it again.
I heave a heavy sigh outside the shed. Stunned by my stupid sigh, I quickly look around and find no sentries. Then I carefully climb up a shed at the outskirt of the area.
I watch the surrounding area. The supposed barracks area is still noisy. The guards in front of the mansion has joined them at unknown time. That leaves the mansion lightly guarded. I can’t say the same to the interior though.
I move my sight around. Finding a gap in the guard, I move towards the mansion under the cover of darkness. Along the way I have to take a few detour around the patrolling sentries. It takes me fifteen minutes to reach the mansion.
I climb the low wall and peek in. The sentries are chatting a distance away from me. However, if I wanted to climb in, I would be immediately discovered. I climb down once again.
I activate the camouflage before once again climb up. This time I climb over without any hesitation. The distortion caused by the time lag attracts the attention of the sentries. I wait silently without moving.
The distortion is only there for a split second. The sentries wear a confused face while looking over. After a long time they dismiss it.
I move slowly around the sentries to the first floor of the mansion. Half of the first floor room are lit up. Some having more noises than others. With camouflage still on, I peek inside each lit up rooms.
The first room I look into is a large dining area. A few servants are eating right now. I ignore them and walk to another room.
The second room is a study. There is only one small candle lit up and there is no one inside. I see dusty cupboards with few books and a lot of scrolls.
The third room is a bedroom. There is a couple playing right now. Their clothes are scattered on the floor. With an embarrassed face I turn away.
By the time I reach the fourth room, I hear a scream comes up from a room at the far side of the mansion. I quickly turn around as I recognize the voice. It’s Alishia’s.
I sprint to the room and cause a few sentries to spot the distortions. I ignore them and keep sprinting. I get to where Alishia should be soon after. The room is dark. I turn on the night vision as I peek in.
The room is empty. There are signs of dragging as bed sheets, clothes, and rags are scattered on the floor. The door is slightly opened and still swinging a bit.
I quickly check other nearby rooms. A lit up room suddenly has a clamor. Judging that it is where Alishia is brought to, I run there. I peek inside the room.
A few old and young men are sitting around a large table. I can see Yaza sitting near the head of the seat. A middle aged man is sitting at the head. Obviously he is much higher ranked there that even the host has to take a seat nearby.
‘Shouldn’t the host keep that place? Those lessons from before the expedition are vague.’
They are all watching a girl with a beautiful golden hair at the door. She is kept in place by two guards. She is wearing a tattered clothes. It was a beautiful cloth before she is kidnapped. Now there are tears everywhere.
Alishia is looking around with fearful eyes. She curls up to hide even a little of her body. Yaza stands up at this moment.
“This is the girl I got yesterday. Beautiful, isn’t she? As I recall, she should be the acquaintance of the witches I am hunting. I have sent a message to the village asking them to surrender.” (Yaza)
“Ho? So in addition to this girl, you will get another beauty soon?”
“Yes. I can guarantee that she is much more prettier than this girl. In addition, she is a trained witch. Imagine the new power she will give you when you enslave her.” (Yaza)
“Hehehe. That sounds really good. When will we get to see her?”
“I can’t say. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after. All I can say is that whoever the one that win the auction today will get a chance to see the witch first and decide how much he is willing to pay. If I am satisfied with the payment, the rest of you won’t get a chance to even see her.” (Yaza)
“What about the man?”
“You want to buy him? Are you that kind of man?”
“No. How strong is he?”
“He isn’t that strong. He nearly lost his life to Baron Barg if it isn’t for that girl.” (Yaza)
“Ah. Then just kill him. Even if you sent him for bounty, it would be really low.”
“I am planning to.” (Yaza)
I grit my teeth and grip my rifle tighter as I resist the urge to directly storm in. I firmly etch the people inside to my mind as targets to kill when I have the chance. Especially the one with the most lecherous gaze.
‘Well.... I am going to make you regret that you’re born.’
I watch as the auction progresses on while looking for a non-existing chance. The middle aged man at the head of the table is still calmly looking on. The other old and young men are drooling. Alishia keeps hiding her face but the guard will open it again.
“500 gold coins.”
Suddenly the middle aged man gives a huge number. The other nobles are stunned. They turn their glare at the middle aged man. The man sits loftily and brushes off their glares. Those amount is the average of two months tax revenues in medium size territories.
The other nobles have a hard time to determine if they want to still fight. Soon an old man gives a higher number but the middle aged man beats him with a huge margin between them. The price has become too expensive for the others.
“Well then. Sire has earned the right of having her and the right to have the first bid for the witch. Should I give her to you now?” (Yaza)
“No. It’s too troublesome. We still have other transactions to do.”
“Alright then. I will send her back. Just tell me when you want her.” (Yaza)
The guard quickly brings her out of the room. The other nobles look on longingly but they can’t do anything. The middle aged man takes out some scrolls from his chest.
“Alright. The break is over. Let’s continue to....”
I leave the window as soon as Alishia comes out. I track them back to the previous room with my scanner. After shoving her in, the guards closes and leaves the room.
I stand outside the window while Alishia is curling up at corner of the bed. I smile guiltily as I can’t save her from humiliation. I tap the window a few times.
Alishia finally reacts to the tapping after several times. She watches the window in confusion. I look around and then turn off the camouflage. With a bit of distortion, my body slowly appears.
Alishia watches in surprise as I appear out of nowhere. I tap the window once again and point at the lock. I watch as Alishia still rooted at her place starts to tear up.
I hurriedly put a finger in front of my mouth to signal her to keep silent. She chokes back her cries and slowly stands up. She unlocks the window and opens it.
“Sorry for the wait. Let’s get out of here.” I said while showing the brightest smile I can so that she can calm down. She nods with tears rolling down her cheeks.