After the trip to Veneer had been finished, we finally headed back to the capital. At present, we were gathered by Laptiricia-sama’s carriage as double-checked security.
“So, the second and third nights are what we should be careful of?”
“I heard from the guards that they raided the bar which served as the ‘Enjuu’ headquarters. But apparently it was just a front. According to the one we captured, 10 other members – including their leader – are missing.”
“They also mentioned that one of the members of ‘Cactus’ was with them, right?”
“Other than that, we also need to be wary of the movements of that trio, since their objects are still unclear.”
“Fortunately, we have Shaft-dono who can see through their disguise. I’ve sent a letter to Sieffried via the guild”
“Thanks. Leptirica-sama, I’m curious. I’ve heard from my acquaintance that there is no such magic that could transform one’s appearance. Then, how were they able to do it?”
In response to my question, Laptiricia-sama fell into a deep thought. She was the only one I could ask right now. Being the daughter of a noble family that dabbled in magic, she’d know more than the average person.
“I haven’t heard of such magic that could alter one’s appearance, let alone one that could also alter perception and the hearing of everyone nearby before. Not during my time in the academy nor during my time in Sansqua.”
“I’ve also never heard anything about this trio, pretending to be other people and infiltrating various places. Perhaps, only the higher ups in the guild know about them.”
“I think it’s safe to say that the trio wasn’t a part of the assassination team. Otherwise, why would they bother coming to the banquet just to eat and nothing else? But we still need to be wary of them.”
“I agree with what the escort leader said. Those three had a different feel coming off them. If they were the same people that fled during my last mission, It’s difficult to think that they didn’t recognize me back there. Even if I was wearing a different mask.”
There’s an agreement that we should keep an eye on them. Although they weren’t with the assassins, there were just too many things I didn’t understand yet. So, let’s just inform the proper authorities and leave it to them. Our duty as escorts was to protect Laptiricia-sama. We shouldn’t mess up our priorities here.
Taking a short break, the escort leader and I headed to where the cabin and headed to where the carriage and horses were parked. While keeping an eye on our surroundings, I talked with him.
Nothing happened on the first or second night. By now, the other nobles who were staying within Veneer would make their way to the Capital for the royal banquet. Their advantage over us was they could use transfer magic to travel instantly. A Magic Transport team can only do a one way teleport from point A to point B. So, if one wanted to make a round trip, they’d need to set up another team at point B to send them back. They were mainly to transport goods and supplies. Daily essential items like food, salt, spices – along with other items needed for daily life.
Human teleportation was limited to the Royal Family and a few select nobles. A member of the commercial guild could also use the service to move their supplies for a fee. Civilians and adventurers were restricted from the service. I guessed that it was to manage the service itself, as leaving no limitation would strain the teams. Regardless, this was why these select few people didn’t have to spend days on a carriage from town to town. Coincidentally, Laptiricia-sama was only allowed to use a carriage this time.
There was another group staying at the resting area during the second night. They were a company moving to Veneer. But the third night, it was just us. Perhaps there was foul play at hand here. Somebody prevented other travelling groups from reaching this place, isolating it.
“Tonight, I’ll keep watch without sleeping. It’ll be bad for us if the stable was lit on fire, so divide the horses and keep them away from each other to prevent them from being taken all at once.
“Roger that. I’ll make the arrangement immediately.”
Under the escort leader’s command, the guards went about their duties as they tied up the horses to pillars or trees so no more than one was in a single place. Aside from placing guards around the area, I personally stood guard as well. For now, I didn’t detect any incoming or moving sounds other than ours. Eventually… The sun sat with a gentle breeze blowing through the area until it became dark.
We Installed several torches around the area to keep our surroundings well lit. Although, at the same time, it also made the darkness thicker. I switched my kevlar mask to NV mode and began to patrol the perimeter. There were no strange sounds at the moment. The escort leader had ordered minimal movement and sound.
Suddenly, the surrounding darkness grew so thick that even my NV mode was having a hard time seeing in it.
“It’s the Dark Mist! Enemy incoming!”
I heard one of the guards shout. The surrounding area was quickly saturated in a black mist. My field of vision was limited to only a few meters ahead. I deactivated NV mode and switched to my FLIR mode. Covered in black mist, I saw the guard move accordingly.
“Magicians, start blowing the mist away! They’ll come soon, prepare for battle!”
That was the escort leader speaking. Certainly, by blinding our sight like this, they were hiding their approach from us. It’s high time for the attackers to finally make their move— I immediately headed back to the cottage where Laptiricia-sama and Ashley were resting.
“Are you two alright?!”
The two were lying on the ground, throwing up as their bodies spasmed. It seems that they were awakened by the ruskus. They were, however, inflicted with strange ailment while changing clothes. Evident by how their light armor and robes were in a state of dishevel.
“Sha-Shaft-dono…! Is… Laptiricia-sama safe?”
While checking on their conditions, I heard the escort leader’s distraught voice. Probably from having no idea how to deal with their current predicament.
“They suddenly started vomiting – is it poison?”
“Ma-mage masher. It is a type of grass, if burnt, the smoke would cause severe physical troubles the more magical power a victim has.”
“So it’s a magic based poison. Do we have the antidote?”
“No! The grass is only used as a last resort during war, or to subjugate a large group of bandits. Civilians aren’t allowed to possess it, and cultivating it is a crime. We can only get the antidote from Veneer or the Capital.”
“What will happen if they’re left without it?”
“If the victim only has a small amount of magic, they won’t die. But, for a magician, it’s extremely deadly – depending on the amount inhaled, they might not even last a day.”
From here, It’ll take two days to get to either city. No, more importantly!
“Incoming from the west, 11!”
On the map, 11 dot were displayed approaching.
“Commander, keep them safe.”
I lifted the two and laid them on the bed. I then had the pale faced commander watch over them.
“U-understood. If a bandit comes, I’ll surely cut them down.”
When I got out, the dark mist had already subsided. But in its place, I could see a purple smoke flowing about. So that was the mage masher. Looking around, I noticed that the battle had already begun. And it was a one-sided massacre. The assailants were killing the incapacitated guards who’d inhaled the smoke. A few had milder symptoms, but still, they were no match. I was in time to see one of the assassins kicking a robbed convoy member in the stomach. Seeing this, I felt nauseous. My worries for the girls grew larger, but still, I reached into my overcoat, and grabbed the handle of my tomahawks.