The red point on my Map ended up stopping at a place seemingly in the middle of the forest. We had brought horses so we could keep up with the movements of the carriage. I still couldn’t ride a horse. To this point, I had never found a good reason to learn. Thankfully, one of the girls was willing to let me ride behind her. I clung to Shao tightly since every move made me feel like I was about to fall off. With Portals, horses weren’t needed very much. That was my reasoning.
As we reached the edge of the forest, I could see it was a mansion hidden out in the middle of nowhere. This must be where the gambling guild kept the large profits they were raking in from the gladiatorial matches.
Why were we picking on the gambling guild? That answer was rather simple. They were in with Lord Reign. They received no taxation, so all of their awards went to their pocket and didn’t contribute to the city’s health in the slightest. As for what Lord Reign got out of it, I wasn’t sure. My current thought was that they were somehow tied with the Imperial Cloud Meadow, but I wouldn’t be able to confirm this unless we could get into the mansion.
Unfortunately, the security looked pretty tight. Anyone we killed would also likely notify others of our presence. In this world, a person’s death was as much an alarm as anything else. That meant that we needed to get through and get the money while capturing and silencing every person there.
That was easier said than done. There were a lot of guards present. I could see the carriage holding the money approaching the mansion. There were fifteen guards, half of them were Knights. There was double that amount already at the mansion, waiting for their delivery. Presuming there were more inside, and I was looking at nearly fifty opponents against a team of seven. Maybe, we should have just raided the carriage itself. Fifteen would have been difficult, but we might have been able to succeed.
Another option would be to start taming monsters, or possibly using Terra’s golem machine to create a small army. At that point, I could just create a Portal and bring a large number of my soldiers over. However, if I did that, there would be no way to make this look like a Bandit raid. Plus, we might even start a war immediately. Silently wiping out the forces sent to kill me had pushed the pair of us into a stalemate that has lasted the last two months, but if I showed any sort of aggression against Lord Reign, that war could start sooner rather than later.
“Miki, can you put people to sleep?” I asked.
“I can, Master,” Miki whispered back. “The more alarmed they are, the harder it is, though.”
That made sense. We’d need to lull them into a sense of peace before we could do our attack. If they all fell asleep, then we could complete the entire task without killing anyone. Although I wasn’t afraid to kill these people, which is exactly why I picked those who were doing jobs that were just a little bit nefarious, I would feel better if no one died.
I started looking through my Inventory and my inventory ring, trying to come up with something that I could use. Just when I was about to give up, my eyes fell on a certain box in my Inventory, and a clever idea came to my mind.
As two guards stood in front of the gate that led into the secret mansion, a horse with two people walking beside it came walking up. They saw them approaching for a while, and had already unsheathed their swords. However, the two people and the horse seemed non-threatening, so they waited until the people were close enough that they could see them before speaking.
“This is private property! No visitors!”
“Huh?” I called out. “I’m not a visitor? Then where am I supposed to transport this wine?”
One of the people was me, and the other was Miki, who was dressed as my servant and slave. Technically, she was my slave, so this wasn’t too challenging to pass off. Plus, her thin, pale form gave her the appearance of someone who couldn’t put up a fight. Compared to the other girls who all had various levels of athleticism, she pulled off a simple servant the best. Her ability to set the mood, decreasing suspicion with just her presence was only a plus.
“I already said, no – ow, what?” As one guard tried to dismiss me again, the other one hit his chest.
“What wine is that?” The guard asked with interest.
“Ah! Only the best wine in Aberis!” I declared, pulling out a jug from the horse’s saddle.
I had about 100 liters of wine in jugs, enough to throw a pretty good celebration, sitting in my storage ring. I didn’t drink very much, but a lot of places seemed to expect gifts, and wine was the gift of choice for most, so I had bought them in bulk cheaply in Chalm where I could take advantage of my Hero status and my Barter Skill for some pretty cheap wine. It had been found in the underground cellar of one of old Chalm’s taverns. The wine was actually a better quality than most in Chalm could afford.
Since Chalm needed money, and I needed bribes and gifts, I bought up all the wine to help the local breweries. I didn’t expect to ever go through it all, but in a time stop ring, it would last. Then again, didn’t wine taste better with age? I didn’t really know that much about these things, but this stuff was already extremely valuable, and I got it for a very good deal.
The guard who had spoken also seemed to have good taste, and he could see that the wine I had pulled out looked to be the quality stuff. I popped open the cork of one bottle, all while running a spiel like I was a wine salesman. I was just a transporter, so this was probably very suspicious if anyone thought about it for too long, but thankfully, the guards didn’t appear to be very bright. After pouring a glass for each of them, they drank it without even wondering if it was poison or anything.
Of course, it wasn’t altered in any way. For Miki to do her magic, it was enough if I could just get most of them inebriated. In theory, she could probably manage it without any of this pretense, but as men fell, other men would become more alert, and it risked becoming a race between when Miki’s mana ran out or the last few men managed to band together and start fighting back. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
“This is definitely great stuff. Sell me a bottle!” The guard said with a smile.
“Ah… as I said, it’s already paid for.” When he gave me a questioning look, I handed him the bottle I opened. “This one’s on the house?”
He was a bit stupider than even that. I was beginning to realize I was giving a bunch of guards in a world without an education system too much credit. Perhaps some of the people in the manor would be a bit more challenging.
He opened the door without question, and while the other guy was a bit suspicious, he followed along and stepped aside.
“Where is the rest of our cut?” A man asked as we entered the manor.
We left our horse tied out in front, and I let Miki carry a basket of wine while I tried to look like I belonged there.
There appeared to be three groups discussing things right in the main foyer of the mansion. The first group appeared to be carrying the bags of coins. The second group was the ones receiving the coins, and the third group looked like Bandits. We had changed out of our Bandit clothing, but thanks to Salicia’s education, I could pick out a Bandit on sight now.
“Your cut had already been supplied.” The one who looked to be from the financial group said with a snide voice.
“Well, we’re increasing the cost. That last city is proving problematic. It just won’t fall.”
“That’s your problem.”
I barely managed to keep my mouth from falling open. Of course, I could connect the dots. The city they were talking about was Regency. They seemed to be asking for money from the bankers who work with Lord Reign.
Were the Bandits on Lord Reign’s payroll? What were the chances of that? I had come north to establish a name so that I could get closer to the Bandits, but I didn’t know they were related! It made sense though. Lord Reign was trying to destabilize the region. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of those lords fleeing the south were seeking sanctity with Lord Reign.
If that was the case, then would causing trouble here have the effect I was looking for? I suddenly wasn’t sure if our actions were correct. With that little bit of knowledge, the entire game had changed. It was too late now, as we were already seen.
“What is this?” One of the men asked.
“I was ordered to bring wine here,” I explained. “From Lord Reign, as a gift… to your leader, for a job well done.”
Making up the story as I went along, I gave a smile and pulled the basket from Miki’s hands and presented it. The money guy looked surprised and confused, but after a brief second, the Bandit gave a smile.
“Now, this is what I’m talking about. A little respect and appreciation. What’s your name, kid?”
Kid? I mean, I was a young guy, but no one in this world had called me a kid before.
“I’m De… Dee! Um… Dede… sir.”
“Well, Dede… have you considered being a Bandit.”
Was it that easy? I had plotted all of this stuff to create my band, fight my way toward getting noticed by the bandit leaders, joining their organization, and finding out their inner workings, but just like that I now not only knew their backers but also had a free invitation to join. This felt like an extreme anti-climax. After all of my hard work, I wasn’t satisfied at all.
Even the money men who should be looking at me suspiciously seem more relieved that I’d taken on the attention of the Bandits, and so were forgoing their suspicions for convenience.
“Hey, I got an idea!” The guy suddenly shouted. “Let’s all get drunk! It’s time to party!”
All of my meticulous planning… things that didn’t involve dungeons were too easy!