CH 41 – Spy
He looked back at Romaine, and found that she was looking back at him. Her eyes which were full of curiosity made people feel uncomfortable at times, but Brendel was truly fond of her and found her mannerisms to be cute.
He contemplated for a while before replying: “Let’s stop here for a while.”
“Stop for a while?” Freya asked: “But the Madara’s forces are right behind us, and they would arrive about two or three hours later. We don’t have much time, Brendel.”
But he shook the Seal Ring in front of the girls and answered: “It is now midnight. The city will be on full alert, and just having this alone does not really say anything. If we are treated as the Madara’s scouts, everything would go wrong, understand?”
“T-then, what should we do?” Freya thought that all her efforts that she put in should have a little use.
He glanced at her. In his mind, he knew clearly he was full of crap. Fortress Riedon did not notice Madara’s invasion? That might not be true! The nobles would not neglect their own safety, what they wanted was to hide inside the fortress and stubbornly defend until reinforcements arrived.
He remembered in the Year of the Hidden Beasts (Year 342), the undead army swept across the east of Karsuk, leaving the entire region void of life. The governor of City of Silver Horses ordered the gates to be shut, ignoring the pleas of the eastern region, causing the refugees to flee to the west. In the end, that stretch of land was still empty even until now.
Even so, these city lords did not receive any censure or blame, or perhaps the royal family had no power left to rebuke the lords since the ascension of Aouine’s previous king. The girls did not understand what happened to the Karsuk region, but he knew what happened.
His true intention was to rescue Romaine’s aunt, and possibly a few others if he could, but reporting to the army of Fortress Riedon? He had never placed hope in this aspect, and he certainly did not think himself as a messiah.
Rather than hoping the nobles would listen to reason, he would rather bet on pigs flying in the air as a better possibility. There were many clashes amongst the players and the arrogant nobles in the game, and even until the political changes in the twelve month, they were still fighting it out.
He did not even have one good impression of the bastards at all.
When he considered the pieces in his mind, he realized that Freya might see things differently. He spied on her with the corners of his eyes. She was staring vacantly at the campfire — The countryside girl still believed in this country. It was not a bad thing, but he was worried that she would be impulsive when it came to the critical juncture.
And even if displayed the facts before her, she might not believe him. This would only lead to a rift between them and he did not wish to argue with her. He continued to mull things over, then a sudden idea hit him.
[There are some moves I need to consider in advance for this plan.]
He pretended to think a while longer, then answered: “I have thought things through. It seems like we don’t have much of a choice. We are still Aouine’s citizens and we cannot avoid the dangers here.”
“But,” He paused: “We need to prepare for every situation.”
His logical and grand speech made the girls nod in agreement. Even Freya’s attitude softened. She looked at him with appreciative eyes, suddenly finding that he was not such a shameless lout.
Only the Gods knew that Brendel felt relieved after his speech. He realized that he finally found a way to bridge himself to his past and the current Brendel. He was never a person to be mired in rules, but the recent days made him feel that there was a huge hand continuously pushing him from behind, and that made him feel breathless at every turn.
But with his growing strength and the baptism from the Golden Demonic Tree’s dream, he finally felt the carefree feeling from the past returning to him. This made him feel like things could be solved easily. His thoughts also had the addition of the former Brendel’s flexibility.
He took out the black gargoyle statue which still had a small crack on it.
He said: “You need to be prepared as well. Turn your ring to face inwards, Freya. Your fire agate is too conspicuous. Little Romaine, you need to keep your dagger close to your body. The lazy guards won’t search too close for it.”
“Do I need to turn my ring too?”
“That’s not necessary, nobody will want your cheap ring.”
“Brendel, these people are the guards of the fortress! Why do you look like you don’t…… trust them too much?” She asked.
“… I had never trusted them in the first place. Once we reach there you will understand what I mean. In any case, just follow what I said for the time being.”
Freya had never entered the city and felt that he was overdoing things. But she could only choose to believe since he was the leader of such things now.
Brendel took out various trinklets while he explained. The only thing that he had not identified was the trinklets from the fallen noble. He found that the pipe was only a common item and he he threw it away. He did not know what the dark gray colored stones were, but there was bound to be something that he did not recognize since there were thousands of different materials.
But the crystal beads were interesting. He discovered they were the containers of a spent soul gem, or more accurately, a storage spell item. The spell inside them should be a silencing spell, an appropriate magic to use for going around the monster’s nest during adventuring.
But what made him feel awkward was the inability of activating the storage spell items since he was a warrior. He hesitated for a while before keeping the cards and the items away, so the greedy guards would not take them away later on.
He checked the night sky. It was still early.
They started to leave Vendeck from the east, and there were signs of bright stars illuminating the buildings in their path. They were mostly farms distributed on the two shores of the Pine Forest, one after another. There were also inns in the outskirts, which only adventurers and illegal merchants would patronize these buildings. Many NPCs treated the players like they were grave robbers, since it was true that the majority of them had done something similar.
They walked in the wild for approximately an hour, and suddenly Fortress Rideon appeared right in front of them. There were fire baskets at the towers, which lit the surroundings dozens of meters away. Brendel told the girls to slow down, and to gradually walk out of the darkness into the edge of the light.
The guards were chatting with each other, and there was even a faint snoring sound. He was particularly sensitive to the noises, and he furrowed his brows. There were approximately seven or eight of them in the tower.
Once the three of them appeared, the chatting ceased.
“Identify yourself!” The guards looked warily at them for a while, and one of them revealed himself with a helmet and demanded them to answer. Romaine squinted and looked up, finding a black pine symbol on the helmet’s top.
Brendel had once explained to her that the black pine symbol represented the local forces, while that white-mane something army was a symbol of a wolf. ‘Brendel really knows everything’, she thought.
“A men and two women. We came from the forest. Sir, we saw something strange there. Me and my wives are completely scared, and we want to seek refuge in the fortress!” Brendel raised his arm and shouted loudly.
Freya who was behind listened in fury and embarrassment, what was ‘a man and two woman’, the crudeness of it all! When she heard him saying they were his wives, she finally stabbed Brendel’s back with the sword’s hilt, this damned bastard must have done it on purpose!
Romaine looked like she was fine with it, perhaps even feeling that it was a good thing to be Brendel’s wife.
Brendel could only suffer in silence. This was the only way to make the guards lay down their vigilance. They did not look similar to each other in appearance, and he could not possibly say they were siblings.
“Are you carrying weapons?” The guard asked again.
Freya tensely held on to her sword when she heard that question, but Brendel calmly answered: “We dare not set foot in the forest without weapons, sir, and we also trained as militia in the past.”
The tower became silent, and there was a long pause.
After a while, a basket was let down from above, and the guard shouted: “Take off your weapons and place them in the basket. We will receive you one by one.”
Brendel nodded to Freya to let them do the same. Even though the ‘Thorn of Light’ was more elegant in appearance, without activating the sword it did not look like a Magic Sword. Once the weapons were handed over the basket lift was sent down. Brendel was the first to go up in case something happened to the girls up there. Freya allowed Romaine to go next, and finally she was the last one to be pulled up.
She sat down on the lift’s seat as she was pulled up, but when she reached the top of the tower, she saw that Brendel and Romaine were restrained with swords on their necks. Two of the guards pulled out their swords and walked over to her.
“What is this?” Freya asked in astonishment. She cast her gaze at Brendel, but he looked away and did not answer her query.
She panicked a little. Brendel was always the leader of the group, but now it was as if she became the decision maker. What should she do? Let the guards restrain her? Was this the way how they did things?
[Brendel, answer me, what the hell are you thinking, damn it!]
“Take them away, these people are Madara’s scouts!” At this moment, she suddenly heard someone barking orders from the corner. She was greatly taken aback, and spoke without thinking: “You knew that the Madara’s army was attacking?”
Brendel’s expression was one of tragedy. Even though she had grown, she was a still a naive lass who had not seen the various aspects of society. A few mere words was enough to make her lose her composure. She might feel there was nothing wrong in her question, but the guards in Fortress Riedon was afraid of people from Bucce reporting the situation.
They wanted to suppress this information in order to shirk the responsibility.
Brendel knew that all too well. These people thought they could rely on Fortress Riedon’s tall and sturdy walls, but none of them knew the war was going to advance in a direction beyond their wildest dreams.
“Wait, we’re not Madara’s scouts!” Freya argued: “We’re Bucce’s militia, we have the Seal Ring of the Bucce’s guard captain!”
But the voice completely ignored her and yelled: “Restrain her now, what are you waiting for?” The person walked out from the darkness, bearing a dark armor, with the feather on his helmet indicating that he was the leader of the guards.
The perverted middle-aged man stared lasciviously at Freya, his mind thinking that he had gotten something good. He believed that Freya was telling the truth as she was still wearing the militia’s armbands, but he had other plans in mind.
[How interesting. To think there’s such a fine woman in that poverty-stricken Bucce.]
He stroked his chin.