”How much is the reward again, Gery? ” A dirty-blonde and tanned woman was holding a dagger against a pudgy Satyr [Wagon Driver]s back, forcing him to drive the wagon that the [Mercenaries] had hijacked.
”Two gold coins I think. ” A man was stroking his thin mustache as he held a wooden staff with a single red crystal in the other hand as he sat behind her, along with other men and women holding disposable Wands of Fireball. ”Two? I suppose that thiss just a spook. The employer is stinting on us? ”
”One gold and five silver for each of us if we manage to kill Jacias Gildin. Thirty silver for each of their employees. ”
”Do not chase them down. This is only a drive-by. The bonuses only apply if we manage to kill them in the volley, Thissa. ”
”I guess two gold is enough to not starve for weeks. I can buy a real nice sofa for that, made from magical sheep or somethin. ” The woman shrugged. The other three men and women are cutting small gaps on the canvas to aim their wands out.
”Investing in something is a better use for that coin. I want to buy stock for wands if the Dungeon is free to invest in. Prices will go up once Belias purchases a share. ” The [Mage] replied.
”Sounds nice. Might just hire some [Carpenters] to renovate the hole in my roof. Or buy a sword with a sharpening enchantment or boots with [Haste]. ”
”Thats more sensible. ” Gery shrugged. Their wagon was near the target, a building with the sign: Gildin Trading. He cut that small conversation short.
”Attune wands. ” He ordered the rest of the people in the wagon. The crystal on his staff is a concentrated mana crystal that is designed to supply mana via linking it to multiple wands so that it can supply or empower them. The wands of the rest of the [Mercenaries] are made out of cheap wood and etched with [Fireball], purposely designed to burn after one Spell to leave no traces. The [Wagon Driver] sweated profusely because they were about to attack the company he works in while a blade at his back was warning him not to shout or try to escape.
The street was bustling with people. The spacious street has a few small shops within the buildings, [Farrier]s shop and food stalls. People generally stay clear of the center of the road because that is where Gildin Tradings wagons go through. One of them was unleashing five [Fireballs] with nearly the power of a [Great Fireball] towards the third floor of the headquarters of Gildin Trading. The windows were shattered and the wall was decimated. The wagon in question suddenly sped up, leaving the scene.
Numisley was being carried by Cultrost on his back, still holding on to his walking stick. Jacias was ordering one of his employees to send a report to Maldent Trading before they hopped in the wagon with their best [Mercenaries], five people with high levels, good enough in a town like this, as well as his most trusted people way back since he had arrived at this continent. Palden, their fastest [Caravan Master] had run towards the new wagon and used a Feat to accelerate faster. The wagon sped through the crowded roads, but the people were already standing clear away from the roads because of the initial explosion. Many of the citys mercenary Watch are already reassuring the crowd. A few people still on the roads had jumped away from the speeding wagon.
The wagon had swerved from street to street until they got out of the walled portion of the town. They slowed down on the cracked stone road. They were in the less populated area of the town, where the farmland is. They went through the forest road until they saw their secluded manor within. It was a spacious stone house with tiled roofs, protection enchantments on the walls and windows, as well as a barren garden that was supposed to grow flowers and other plants. Two 7 feet tall stone golems with sensor gems on their heads in place of a face that is armed with mauls patrolled the area. Jacias stared gingerly at the unused patch of land overgrown with weeds before opening the doors to their manor. He never had a green thumb, in fact, he only kept the barren garden populated by weeds to remember his wife.
”Remember what you will need to do when the time comes, ” Jacias told Cultrost and Numisley immediately when they had entered the manor, rushing towards the dinner table parallel to the fireplace. Palden crouched beside the trapdoor.
”The vault? ” Cultrost asked.
”Yes. ” He said. ”In the event of my death, you will leave the continent, and follow the instructions in the vault. The books are the most important, however. ”
”Wait, you never told us what were they about- ”
”You only need the passphrase. You two are smart enough to figure out what to do with the information that I had collected. ” Jascias turned to his escort and ordered them to spread out and guard the rest of the house. He gestured towards Numisley and Cultrost, twisting the green gem on his golden ring, pointing at the trapdoor that suddenly appeared below the table, unveiling an illusion that covered it. ”If I do not come back for a bell or two, you will escape with the files and money in the vault. ”
”Cultrost, take care of your brother. Numisley, stay safe. Im proud of you boys, more than you can ever imagine. ” The two climbed down the ladder. The last person to climb down was the [Wagon Master], Palden.
”Fortune to you, boss. ” The aged Orcan saluted and closed the trap door. It locked itself and reactivated the illusion that hid it within the floorboards. Jacias Gildin never looked back and he adjusted his old dagger from his [Spymaster] days on his belt, enchanted with [Evercut]. He went upstairs to his room and grabbed a notebook filled with secrets that he might bribe his enemies with, a Wand of Shatterbolt along with other magic items.
He had been there before. Life-or-death situations where armed men and women had come to capture or kill him because of the secrets that he carried and dispensed. He still lives because he knew how to escape. After all, a [Spymaster] was less inclined to fight as well as a [Warrior] does. But he still has a few tricks on his sleeve. He activated the trap Spells that are spread out within their estate.
[Riders] had rode through the forests within the vicinity of Renimburg. They were three dozen of them, hired to kill the [Merchant] that owned Gildin Trading and their sons. A violet-skinned Satyr had scanned and set his pure-black eyes forwards towards where the manor could be. He deduced that the manor is well-hidden or camouflaged with illusion Spells. Their [Mage] rode up beside him, a Human woman with red hair partially hidden within her hood.
”Captain Gadihew, there are no magical emissions up ahead that indicate an area-wide illusion. However, there is a possibility of trap spells around the vicinity.. ” She reported. ”A given for an [Merchant] and former [Spymaster] of his fortune. We got no time, and we must risk it. He already knows that we are already here. ”
He turned towards his [Riders]. ”Men and women, use your best movement Feats and gallop forwards! ”
The [Mercenary Captain] and [Forest Rider] had activated his [Unit: Hooves of Haste], which was a Feat derived from his Bound Spell, and [Unit: Riding Expertise (Forest)]. His mercenary group is specialized in chasing down important targets with their horses, and they have a requirement that they need to have a horse and a [Rider] Role to enlist. As if under the effect of a [Haste] Spell, the [Riders] sped up. Despite the twisted full roots of the trees and the rocky, mossy path, their horses hooves had not slipped or tripped as they should, weaving through the forest.
The first bound [Stone Dart] Spell, etched on a hidden rune within a trees bark, had activated because the trap Spells were activated with a sensor rune that detects a certain speed. Cleverly, the hired [Runemakers] and [Enchanters] had used the mana of the trees to hide its magical signature. It targeted one of the hooded [Riders], but with a [Burst of Speed], he sped past the magical projectile. A few were unfortunate enough to collide with a [Earth Wall]. Some traps were not magical; one had tripped on a hidden rope, dismounting a female [Rider]. A dozen and more had either been injured or killed. Mercenary Captain Ridi Gadihew and his best [Riders] had dodged the magical projectiles and jumped over conjured walls. They even hopped off the trunks of the trees to traverse the rough forest. A [Stone Lance] pierced through the [Rider]s leg and his horse beside the captain, and two of his highest-leveled [Riders] had been dismounted with the Golems swing of their mauls. Their ribs were broken, piercing their organs.
”How much did they pay you? I can hire you. I sell secrets and such on the side. ” Jacias stood on the balcony, facing down the nine [Riders] who suddenly stopped upon hearing his voice. He dodged a crossbow bolt as one of the [Riders] took the opportunity to shoot him. His Ring of Protection activated as a barrier around him absorbed three [Lightning Bolt] Spells and snapped multiple crossbow bolts. Ridi had tapped a stone on his belt that had sent a simple magical signal to the other [Mercenaries] that had been hired, letting them know their location.
Not a [Message] Spell, but a simple [Signal] Spell that lit up the receivers signal stone calibrated to tell a rough direction.
”I see that you
e not interested in my offer. ” Already, his five bodyguards were retreating inside the house, where their horses wouldn fit. Jascias pulled out a magical scroll encased in gold from his pocket, and the adversaries had already felt the mana buildup as he unfurled it. From the magic circle within the parchment made from a magical beast, six lances of brilliant blue ice homed towards the riders. Most of them evaded it, but one of their horses was struck on his hooves. The frost had spread throughout the horses body, immobilizing it and slowly killing it. Its rider dismounted, staying away from the frost that spread throughout the grass. The projectiles that missed and hit the ground had created an area that freezes anything within its radius, and it had kept spreading.
The [Riders] wary of the Tier 5 Spell had stayed clear of the ever-expanding area of ice magic that threatened to freeze them. A Tier 5 scroll that costs around 60 gold, around the price of a small home with land. The [Captain] of the [Mercenaries] wondered for a bit who did he work for before he became an [Merchant] of goods and information. Their employer didn tell them much, and it doesn matter to him. 300 gold coins for his death and 700 if he was kept alive. Enough for him and his company to grow fat for two decades or less. Eight of the men and women that he brought with him are injured or dead from that forest of traps. He deduced that the cost was more than worth it. He guessed that he was a retired [Spymaster] from some Yhrilian kingdom, and was quite good.
”Use enchanted bolts, Spells, and Feats. ” One of the two [Lieutenants] of the group ordered. Six of his [Riders] were unleashing precious enchanted bolts against the Golems unaffected by the frost spell; only freezing the surface of their stone, staying clear of their expanding radius. Their bolts were enchanted to puncture even low-grade enchanted armor, and boosted by Feats. Pieces of the Golems broke as they were under a barrage of [Acid Arrows], [Stone Darts], and conjured [Iron Darts] as they charged towards them. They were smart regardless, as they targeted the joints of the golems. They are, rudimentary compared to the Golems in the market today, and so they fell, shattering the frozen ground, but not destroyed, only immobilized.
”Sixteen of you, dismount. Rest of you, secure the perimeter. This is going to be difficult. ” Ridi ordered his subordinates. Twenty-four had survived, but the battle was going to be inside the manor. Not like they were slouches in dismounted combat, only that they are good with their mounts. Jascias was running within the manor. He knew that they got this house surrounded, and the emergency exit was out of the question as he already heard fighting downstairs, so he hid and waited for the right time to escape.
Since the [Riders] entered the east side of the manor, they climbed up the windows. They broke the shutters with their weapons and climbed inside. One was pierced by an arrow from the inside. The smart ones raised their bucklers to block them. A group entered one of the bedrooms, but their [Dangersense] blared within their heads. Someone charged through the wooden walls and pulverized two people with a shield charge. Their bodies were limp on a hole in the wall in front of a tall man with a round studded shield dripping blood and a sword turned towards them. The Human [Onslaught Shieldbearer] with a burnt face from an [Acid Orb] from the past drummed his shield, echoing fear within the surviving invaders.
A group of five entered the kitchen. One of them was stabbed in the back six times within two seconds. A woman with long tusks disappeared from the shadows. They were spooked, waiting for the [Assassin] to appear, even after minutes had passed. The [Shadowstalker Terrorblade] was not there. She skulked within the shadows with her Feats while keeping them frozen in terror as she eliminated officers from the shadows. Their objective was to buy time so that their employer and friend can escape.
The [Archer] who had drawn the first blood within the manor was holding down a group from a doorway under a hail of arrows in a room on the ground floor. They hid under a conjured barrier of light as the others escaped from the windows. Even as he took a break and lowered his bow, the Elven [Phantomvolley Bowmaster] had deployed his [Cordon of Arrows] in that room. He left the room and searched for enemies to eliminate as his ghastly arrows still kept them out in a conjured volley.
Some had already jumped and entered the second floor, but a [Glass Shard Volley] had blinded their teammates in front. A white-bearded Dwarf with most of his body petrified with age had conjured webs to tie them down.
”Don make me waste mana on you. ” He pointed towards the five people trapped in his [Sticky Cocoon] Spell. He pointed to his ironwood staff and [Runes of Stone Spray] were etched on their bindings so that they would activate whenever someone tries to free them.
The [Warmage Staffwarrior] whirled his staff and crushed the skull of an enemy behind him. He casts his gaze downwards at the wide space of the living room from the wooden railings. The majority of them were in the living room and dining hall. The [Onslaught Shieldbearer] led them to the dining hall, taking blows and slashes yet he never yielded, thrusting his sword at the foolish ones who dared to get close. A Dullahan, a species of people who wear armor at all times since their bodies were akin to slime and shellfish, prone to drying and infection. Yet he tossed his head to the high ceiling and let it float, using their species innate telekinesis that only applied to their bodies. His disembodied body, wearing a worn stylized gambeson under an enchanted cuirass walked towards the [Mercenary Captain] with a graceful spring on his step. The blue gambeson held a faded sigil from his past. He held odd long swords without a point with only one single edge. They were executioner swords, sharpened until they cut parchment with a touch.
”You asked me if I would follow you even if you were wrong. Die for you even if you were dishonorable. Our [Prince] was saved because you halted my mistaken blade. Of course, I will, because we will make sure that you shall never walk your lonely path again. ” He audibly mumbled to himself; his enemies heard his monologue, looking upon him in awe and confusion, but his Aura threatened to make them kneel and let them cut their heads.
The five people that protected the manor each have a reason that they risk their lives. The [Shieldbearer] swore to protect his friend for he was grateful for what he had done for him. The [Shadowstalker] still held on to a faded love. The Elf wishes to perish in battle before his friend does of old age. The Dwarf wanted to see how his friends past schemes will bite him back. The Dullahan was his oldest living companion before he moved to this continent, following him because he still owes him.
The Dullahan disembodied body bowed for a bit, showing the pale fleshy stump where the head was supposed to be. A few had let loose bolts and spells towards the floating head, knowing how to defeat Dullahans, but his helmet already had a Gem of Protection embedded in it. Broken bolts fell pathetically on the wooden floor.
”Wash your necks. ” He spoke an [Executioner]s idiom. He was one in the past, albeit disgraced. Yet Jacias had given him an opportunity, and his Role had evolved. The [Mercenaries] charged towards them, but his [Aura of the Executioner] had stopped them, making them kneel. They struggled to stay standing up.
”[Extended Reach: Six Feet], [Guillotine Arc]. ” The [Beheader Blademaster] flicked his blade. A sharp arc curved through the air and cleanly beheaded many of the [Mercenaries]. Those who have the ability and levels above the rest of their group had narrowly dodged the Feat. For a second, it resembled a guillotines blade flying through the air. Ridi gripped his spear tightly and used one of his Feats that still worked in dismounted combat and he thrust with a blur. It simply grazed the Dullahans pauldron as he turned slightly.
A [Force Wall] Spell from the Dwarf on the second floor kept the other survivors from helping their captain. Their employer didn tell them that he had high-level bodyguards. Even back when their [Scouts] spotted them, they didn detect their true Roles and Levels. But they were only the first wave. Three different mercenary groups were already marching towards the manor.
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