After eating a delicious meal, we returned to the city. I appeared just outside of town so we could be seen re-entering it. It was a pain, but I brought the salt rocks out of my inventory and spread them out so everyone carried some. I didn’t want to expose any of my tricks. As for Raissa, she had already seen quite a bit of what I could do and hadn’t told anyone, so I was trusting her. Well, she was hired by the Princess, so if she did betray my trust, it’d be like betraying the country.
“C-Customer confidentiality! I’d never!” she said when I probed about such an occurrence.
It sounded like this kind of concept came with the job. After all, dungeons were a source of unimaginable wealth. If a group had their tricks, gains, or success revealed to disreputable people, it could cause a lot of problems. This was a matter of safety.
We returned back to the city, heading to the provided address for the delivery of salt. When I saw the person responsible, I almost dropped the salt.
“Ah, you picked up my order. Master said it was a waste of time and no one would ever do it, but you saved us. I was going to have to go up there tomorrow and get it myself.”
The redheaded girl I had kept running into turned out to be the one who had placed the order for salt.
“Hehe… you can call me Roob if you prefer. That’s perfect, set it over there. My quenching brine formula requires a lot of salt. Ah, but it also tastes good on food, so…”
As she said, she was looking at me. I did keep some salt for meals, but I didn’t really need that much. I had already bought some in the Capital long before this. It was a lot pricier, though. When I noticed her giving me a puppy-dog look, I noticed what her last words were implying.
“What is that? I’m not cooking for you!”
“But that stew you made was good!” She was almost drooling. “When will you cook for the town again?”
“That was a one-time thing. How can I afford to feed a hundred people daily?”
“Eh? Aren’t you some kind of rich lord?”
“So, you know. That makes your asking even more inappropriate!”
“Come on… you can have my body…”
“Selling your body for stew…” I shook my head. “Have some self-respect!”
“Don’t be like that,” she persisted. “After all, we’ve been naked in bed together and even made it a few bases. We-we’re practically family.”
“What the hell kind of relationships do you have with your family?” I backed out of the shop, retreating strategically.
“Please, I want to taste your meat,” she followed, her eyes still full of desire and her lips moving like she could taste it already.
“Why do I feel like I’m being sexually harassed?”
I grabbed the girls and immediately took off. She followed for a bit, still begging, but as I picked up the pace, she finally sighed and gave up. I let out a breath when she finally turned back to the blacksmith shop.
Actually, because of that, I hadn’t even collected the reward. Did she do that on purpose so she didn’t have to pay me? I must have imagined it. However, somewhere in the back of my head, I thought that this crazy dwarf might very well do something so unreasonable.
We continued on back to the inn, but when we reached it, there was a bunch of horses in front. When we pushed our way into the commons, I saw a group of ten Knights. They had come much faster than I had expected.
“Deek Deekson.” The leader in charge turned to me.
“I have come under the orders of our great Lord Reign!”
Seriously, what was with this guy’s naming convention being completely different. We were both lords and his rank was only slightly above mine. There were ten Knights in all, and it looked like they had been giving the innkeeper trouble since he looked about ready to cry. Most of them were sitting at a table eating, but they were rowdy and messy. I also saw one squeeze the waitress’s butt as she passed. She had a furious expression on her face.
Naturally, these weren’t the Knights who had been sent to the dungeon. These were ten newly dispatched Knights. I was expecting to at least have 2-3 days before I had to deal with this kind of thing. When Raissa noticed them, she immediately, hid behind me, looking somewhat shy. Lord Reign used to be her Master, I had heard. Did she recognize one of these Knights, by chance? The leader’s eyes went over the girls, but he didn’t seem to give Raissa any more attention than any other. I suppose slaves were just slaves to him.
“What do you need?” I tried to keep any bitterness out of my voice.
Although I already knew that Lord Reign wanted me dead, there was no way I could show my hand yet. It was kind of frustrating, but I just had to bear it.
He narrowed his eyes anyway as if he expected me to show him respect like I was below him. “Lord Reign received news that you did not enter the dungeon as you claimed. He was naturally concerned.”
The Knight didn’t sound concerned in his Master’s place.
“Your guards refused to permit me entry,” I responded simply.
“You should have returned to the city!” he said, sounding annoyed. “This mistake would have been sorted quickly.”
“Sorry, we wanted to get a feel for the town first before returning. I even completed some quests. We’re short money, you see…”
I had been careful to create evidence, so even if he checked, he’d find that this was true. All-day yesterday I was out getting salt. The day before I visited the mine, which is collapsed as I reported. There was nothing that he could specifically pin on me.
“We sent Knights into the dungeon. However, they have not given a message,” he said, a pinch of uncertainty forming on his face.
“Dungeons are large and dangerous.” I shrugged nonchalantly. “Perhaps, they ran into some trouble.”
“Perhaps…” The Knight nodded. “But we’ll find out shortly.”
“Mm… we’re beginning our mission now. We’re to recover their life recorder.”
“Wait… what? What is that?” I immediately tried to school my expression. “I mean, I’ve never heard of a life recorder before. If it helps me in a dungeon, I’d naturally be curious.”
The man’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he continued anyway. “The only thing such a device does is help you die. A life recorder was placed on the lead Knight. It not only has a tracking device, but it also records how they died.”
Crud! Why am I hearing about this device now! I didn’t recall any magical device on him. Was it something they swallowed? What the heck are we going to do? It’s the first time I killed someone, and now it’s going to turn out this disastrous.
“Lord Reign has requested that you enter the dungeon and acquire the item.”
“Eh?” I looked up, seeing just a ray of hope in the murky sky. “Me?”
“Of course, you’ll be escorted by my party personally.”
“You need not worry. Your… slaves… can stay here where it is safe. My team is more than adequate at protecting you.”
“Is there any reason, in particular, I should lead?” I decided to ask, more out of curiosity over his excuse than any desire to know.
He raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you now the lord of the wilderness? The dungeon falls in your land. What kind of example do you want to send when another man’s Knights disappear within your own dungeon?”
“Ah, the entrance…”
“A complete mistake!” He laughed jovially, although the mirth didn’t touch his eyes. “You’ll have complete entry as soon as we finish up here. In fact, Lord Reign will even offer you a reward. For completion of the mission, he’ll offer you gladiatorial rights.”
Raissa gasped, this time catching his eye for a moment, but he only smiled and looked up at me.
“Is that good?” I asked, pretending I was interested.
“Gladiatorial rights allow you the right to use your slaves in the arena. If you have a powerful slave, it’s a great way to make money. Normally, the rights are difficult to earn. You have to gain the consent of a lord in a city that has a sponsored colosseum.” Raissa explained in whispers.
Since she grew up here, it seemed like she was familiar with the colosseum. From seeing Shao’s memories, I had a bad impression of it, though. Either way, I wouldn’t hesitate to toss away the reward. It was obviously a trap. However, refusing had its own difficulties.
“I accept. I’ll go upstairs and get ready. We leave in the morning?”
He had an annoyed expression when he looked at my girls, and some of the other guys were already looking at them indecently. “Hmph, I’d rather get this over now, but since you’ve been gone all day, I’ll allow you the night. We leave early in the morning!”
I nodded and went up to our room. All of the girls joined me.
“It’s a trap, Master!” Lydia responded anxiously.
“Of course he knows! What is Master’s plan?” Shao responded a bit more pragmatically.
“I’ll go with them in the morning,” I responded. “And I’ll send you guys to the 1st floor to counter them.”
“It may not be so easy, Master,” Shao responded uncertainly. “They may have more Knights already positioned in the dungeon.”
“I don’t think they think that highly of me. They’re more worried about you girls. They’re more likely to position them at the entrance, and possibly the mine if they suspect we got in that way.”
The rest of the night, we discussed the plan and took turns getting a little bit of sleep. The inn’s common room was trashed, but at the moment, I couldn’t cause any trouble with the Knights. Sorry, innkeeper, you’re just going to have to deal with the rowdy Knights. Tomorrow, we would kill them all.
“Once you wipe them out, there is no turning back,” Shao responded.
“I know. Tomorrow, we become fugitives.”
Come morning, I opened a portal and let the girls leave. I shut it just before Raissa walked through.
“Ah… sir?” She looked back at me.
“What we are doing is out of your pay grade,” I said. “I’m not going to have you risk your life like that.”
“I-t’s okay… I want to…”
“I have a more important mission for you. Go to the Prince, hand him this letter. Let him know what’s happening.” I handed her the letter I carefully made, although I had no seal yet I still used some melted wax.
“Wait! I’ve been meaning to tell you something.” She blushed. “I wanted you to know that I-“
I opened a portal and pushed her through it. Her words were lost with a shout. I closed the portal immediately behind her. With a sigh, I packed up the rest of the room, left a large tip to pay for the inn’s damages caused by the Knights, and then headed down. Today was going to be the day I take my first stand against Lord Reign.