Chapter 42 – Silver Mine (3)
The gates of the silver mines were bustling with people. Regardless of whether they were workers or adventurers, they were watched by a squadron of cavalry and proceeded towards to the mines in an orderly manner. They were also formed into three lines to speed up their entry.
Brendel glanced at the map on his hand, and silently memorized the locations and symbols on it before he rolled the parchment up and put it away in his bag. He looked up at the group ahead. Twenty mercenaries had successfully sneaked in a while ago. The cavalry that was guarding the entrance were not vigilant.
It was probably because Schafflund had enjoyed peace for too long. Even though there were occasional groups of Trentheim’s bandits that troubled the town, these desperados rarely approached the mining areas. One reason was the intimidating name of Count Randner, and another was because the loss outweighed the gains.
His eyes briefly darted to the lush green forest. His female subordinates had most likely entered the area already. Even Jana who was the weakest of the lot had the strength of a Silver-ranked fighter. Bypassing the watchtower’s guards should not be difficult.
Romaine stayed behind in the town with two Pristine Angels protecting her, so he was not too worried.
“Next!” One of the cavalry guards yelled with a thick native accent.
Brendel realized it was his turn and quickly lowered his head and walked forward. He thought he would at least be checked by them, but the rider in front of him with a silver pointed helmet merely swept his eyes on the people in front of him, and let them pass when he saw they had no weapons.
[If this is the case I might as well have the girls disguise as men and let them sneak in. Judging from the way how this place is guarded, that Gold-ranked swordsman’s vigilance probably isn’t high—]
He shook his head in disapproval. Still, it was good news.
Once he was past the gates, the observations on them were even more relaxed. Brendel surveyed the surroundings and quickly saw the disguised mercenaries. In truth, their disguise was really nothing more than not taking their weapons. Naturally, Brendel was not rash enough to carelessly group up with them.
Twenty adventurers in a group were definitely suspicious no matter how one looked at it. Since they had their own methods of contacting each other, there was no hurry.
[I’ve done all sorts of missions in the game, but this is the first time I’m disguising myself and entering deeply into a territory full of enemies. I’m feeling a little anxious and excited at the same time….. Hmm, then again a Gold-ranked fighter is enough to travel through Vaunte—]
His mind was more settled when he remembered this detail. It was still the first year of the game, and a Gold-ranked fighter was a considerable force to be reckoned with. In this year, one could count the number of Gold-ranked fighters below the age of twenty with their fingers.
He then continued to observe and memorize his surroundings as he progressed, while marveling at the beautiful scenery. The path between the town and the silver mines was a long snaking path that passed through the mountain’s forest, and there were sporadic clearings that allowed him to see the valleys below him, as well as the distant Graham Mountain which was made up of a series of smaller mountains extending towards Trentheim.
It was like a watercolor painting where blue mountains lined vividly towards the horizon, and the trees were like black specks sprayed onto them, forming into a canvas that pleased the eyes greatly.
He finally tore his eyes off the landscape to look at his hands after a long while and reflected on his journey in a daze.
[I’ve been using the sword so much that my hands have calluses. I feel like I’ve been traveling for so long, yet it has been only a few months. The unknown kid in Bucce has gained companions and subordinates and is relied on for his strength. I even have my own territory just like I envisioned, and I’m controlling the known future step by step….. until this old kingdom’s fate is changed]
He had successfully turned the ship that had sailed towards the darkness towards the path of light just a little, and thought that the female upperclassman who introduced him to the game would be delighted to hear it.
A unique building structure broke off his thoughts. When Brendel looked at it, he saw a watchtower in front of him surrounded by foliage. When he checked ahead, there were more watchtowers similarly guarded by soldiers with shiny armor.
[Unlike the cavalry’s relaxed attitude, the defense here is strict. Based on the map and the positions of these watchtowers, it seems like the adventurers didn’t lie to me.]
The map cost him three thousand Tor coins, but it seemed like it was worth the price.
Suddenly, someone bumped into Brendel’s back while he was concentrating on the watchtowers. When he looked back, he saw a young man. The latter was surprised to find Brendel to be of similar age to him; when the young man knocked into him, he felt he had smashed against a mountain, and the feedback nearly caused him to fall over.
The young man staggered a few steps before he steadied himself. He patted his chest and breathed in deeply, and it was easy to see his startled expression. He looked back at Brendel, and that emotion soon changed to an apologetic one.
“I’m sorry,” the youth seemed to realize his mistake and apologized.
Brendel observed the youth’s attire; he was wearing a common adventurer’s outfit. The type of leather armor he was wearing did not offer any real defense, and the only good point about it was that it looked pretty decent.
“Well, since you apologized then you should return my things,” Brendel replied after a pause.
It was common to see pickpockets in the game, but it was the first time he encountered it in this world. The difference between then and now was his skill level. He could not catch them in the past because he lacked the skill to do so, but now he was a true Gold-ranked fighter.
The young man’s face turned into shock before he smiled upon hearing Brendel’s words.
“You found out? That’s amazing!” The young man’s smile showed pearly white teeth, and he did not argue when his actions were revealed, and generously took a bag of coins out from his clothes.
It was Brendel’s bag of money.
“That’s fine,” Brendel received the bag and said, “your hands need to be gentler when you steal, also,” he gravely added another line, “you should pick a better target!”
“Are you an adventurer? You don’t look like it! You’re an outsider, right? But it looks like you know our rules very well?” The young man nodded hard before he asked curiously. “But I agree that I need to pick better targets. It’s just that I didn’t expect you to be so amazing at your age. Your reaction is even faster than Maher! That guy always like to brag, oh, right, where are you from, brother?”
Brendel was not interested in knowing who Maher was, and also a little unused to someone using such a familiar tone with him.
“I’ve been to many places, but the rules of the Thieves Guilds are roughly the same. Since you returned my money, I won’t make a scene out of this. I’m going to give my respect to these guilds….. since their type is obnoxiously troublesome.”
Brendel’s words came from experience, and only experienced adventurers who traveled throughout the continent would know what he was talking about.
The young man did not mind and was even delighted as though Brendel had praised him, but he showed a curious look: “You said you traveled to many places? But you don’t look any older than me; it can’t be true, right?”
Brendel merely smirked and shook his head as he continued to walk.
But this action made the young man even more interested in him and he followed him at his side.
“My name is Jocah, what’s yours?”
This question did not gain a response from Brendel, but Jocah did not mind, placed both his hands behind his head and continued to ask with interest: “Are things you said true? Do we really resemble a Thieves Guild? What does a real Thieves Guild look like?”
Brendel glanced at him and replied: “The things you do are pretty much what they would do.”
Jocah raised his eyebrow at Brendel’s evasive answer: “I heard there’s going to be a war in Firburh, is that true?”
Brendel felt slightly gloomy as the boy next to him kept asking questions.
[Do you really think I’m an information vault?]
He decided to ask questions of his own: “Aren’t you a native? Why are you interested in the outside world?”
But this time the boy beside him gave a mysterious chuckle and said: “Ah, well, nothing really, I’m just curious. I shouldn’t bother you anymore. I’ll chat with you if there’s time in the future—”
After he threw down this sentence, he disappeared in the crowd behind them.
Brendel’s perception was high enough to discern shrewdly where Jocah went to; the latter met up with a group of people of his age, and Brendel focused in on their conversation.
“It’s a failure, that guy is quite amazing!” Jocah said.
“Hah, how amazing can that person be when he’s not older than any of us. I can even steal from the veteran adventurers’ pockets in the town, are you sure it’s not because you are shit at it, Jocah?” A new voice said in mocking laughter.
“Why, Maher, please go ahead and show it to me.” Jocah retorted.
“Tsk, he’s already alert, that’s quite the devious plan you have there for goading me—”
“But that person is really quite interesting; he seemed to have traveled to many places. Even though he’s an outsider, he seems to understand our rules quite well, I’m surprised.”
“Hmph,” a new voice that sounded slightly refined interrupted Jocah, “you mean the rules that Maher stole from a drunk and made them our own? It’s not strange that someone else would know about these rules.”
Maher’s face turned red: “Cut your bullshit, doesn’t it mean that man is knowledgeable? Why not go up to him and sell the things you’re talking about all day? Perhaps he might take a fancy to them!”
Maher emphasized on the word ‘sell’, making it sound like he was mocking the third voice.
“I can’t be bothered with an oafish brute like you; you can’t recognize the good stuff at all!”
“That’s enough. I already told you not to cause trouble.” This time it was a fourth voice— which belonged to a female voice.
[What, a girl really managed to sneak in? She doesn’t sound like an adult too.]
Brendel was taken slightly aback and sneered at the gate’s cavalry guards before he continued listening.
“I saw that person yesterday at the Forest Trout Inn along with a few other women. They don’t look like adventurers no matter how much I look at them. I saw that man order the most expensive wine from John, and he doesn’t look like he lacks money at all. He’s definitely up to no good for coming here.”
Brendel’s brows knitted slightly and cursed his luck. It was a spontaneous decision to fish for information before he sneaked into the mines, and he did not think it would end up as a mistake. Who would know that there was someone to overhear their conversation and spot him again in the mines so quickly?
“Should we report him?” The girl continued.
Brendel’s heart tightened.