~ Chapter 137: The den of assassins (Part 1) ~
[Shanteya's point of view]
The carriage came to a halt to the joyful relief of the horses.
The driver knocked two times on the roof and then called out to us, his passengers.
“We've arrived in Damerka.”
I remained seated and waited for the mother with her two young children to get out first. This wasn't my personal carriage, I just payed the driver to bring me all the way out here from the border just like the other passengers did.
“It was a pleasure talking with you, Madame Shanteya. May the gods watch over you.” the woman showed me a kind smile and her two daughters bowed their heads to me before they climbed out.
“Likewise, it was a pleasure to be able to chat with you, Madame Sillora.” I replied with a smile and a bow of my head.
The woman before me was neither a merchant nor a noble, she was a peasant who was returning after a visit to her family. For the sake of learning more about this land, I posed as a wandering adventurer intent on sightseeing and tasting the local cuisine.
The latter didn't interest me as much as I pretended, but it didn't hurt to keep an eye out for any interesting recipes and seasonings. I was certain that whatever I managed to bring back both Tamara and Yung Mai would be pleased and quickly figure out what to do with them.
The journey from the border all the way here took a week, and during that time I had enough time to question the driver, the passengers, and various other individuals we came across when we stopped at a Traveler's Inn.
It was this way that I found out many interesting facts about this country. For instance, the King was an individual who didn't care how the peasant population lived and ignored most of the wrongdoings of the nobles. In fact, everyone knew that he rarely left the palace, he often wasted taxpayer money on useless things foreign traders brought to him. Just recently, he spent almost 10000 goldiettes on what he believed to be an incredible artifact. The description of this so called artifact made me cringe a little. It was one of the golden spheres with drawings carved on it, which Illsyore exchanged years ago for the local currency in Aunnar Kingdom.
If this was indeed the same item, then I pitied the fool for buying it and praised the merchant for being able to sell it for such a ridiculous price.
After those three got out of the carriage, I climbed out as well. The moment my foot stepped on the ground, I noticed the lack of paved roads. My eyes then went to the nearby guard who was digging his nose.
Disgusting... I thought and tried not to let it show on my expression.
“Did you enjoy your trip, Madame?” asked the driver.
“It was pleasant and uneventful.” I replied with a nod.
“I told you that we weren't going to meet any pesky bandits! Hahaha! Us poor folk aren't worth their time, ya see.” he showed me a smile and then got off his seat.
“It appears so. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go look for an inn to stay at.”
“Try Muldar's Inn. It's down the main road, right before you enter the market. You can't miss it.”
“Thank you. I'll go take a look right away then.”
With a nod of my head, I left the driver to tend to his horses.
When I approached the city gates, the guards took one look at me and then went back to what they were doing.
The security here sure is lax. I thought as I walked past them.
The first thing I noticed when I entered Damerka was the architecture. The rooftops were similar to those Illsyore called European style, but both the doors and windows had beautiful arches, which I never saw before either on Allasn or Thorya. There wasn't any glass on them, just a wood cover. The walls lacked Magic Energy enchantments, and they had a carpet hanging out as a decoration. The drawings were different in design, but from what I could see, most of those down the main road used the same colors: black, blue, red, and green, while barely a few had either white or yellow mixed in.
Is this some way of differentiating between castes? I wondered.
The Lundrara Kingdom used a caste system to organize its population. The lowest caste was the Saratu, the equivalent of the slaves, then it was the Tamur or peasants, followed by Shivas or merchants. After the Shivas were the Masaru which were the equivalent of nobles. The royal family in this case was part of the Shinji caste. They were the chosen ones, beloved by the gods and worshiped by their people, or... so they wanted to pretend.
If someone wanted to become a citizen of this country, they would start out from the Tamur caste, and they would never be able to go over Shivas in their lifetime. Their children, however, were a different matter. It was interesting that a noble of a foreign country would never become part of the Masaru caste unless the King himself declared it so.
Thus, saying that I was a humble Tamur right now wasn't a lie when considering this country's laws.
As I continued to walk towards the inn the driver told me about, I noticed that what several other travelers told me about the Lundrara Kingdom was true. The streets were dirty but not only filled with feces and garbage, which hurt my sensible nose, but also with beggars. The stench of this place was almost unbearable to me, but the people who lived here didn't seem to have any problem with it.
While traveling, I learned to greatly appreciate the sewer system added by Illsy on Illsyorea. The most humble house on our island was the equivalent of kingly luxury in this country. Speaking of which, the people here never even heard of the little island that suddenly caught the attention of all the major political powers. Telling the locals I was from Illsyorea was always met with a confused look.
Compared to Devmazur Merchant Collective or Rezalia Kingdom, this place had a predominant number of human slaves as opposed of those from other species. El'doraws, elves, dwarfs, and draconians roamed freely here in quite the big numbers. It appeared that they were the majority here, which could explain why the human guards didn't bother questioning me when I entered the city.
While I was walking towards Maldur's Inn and looking around like a curious tourist, I also kept an eye out for any possible Phantom Rage lookouts. The ones present here were a bit sloppy when it came to their work, and it wasn't that hard to find them in the crowd, but I continued to act as though I didn't notice their presence.
According to the driver and Madame Sillora, the woman who traveled with me, the Vasca family was located in this city, Hermandez Vasca presumably wouldn't have placed the Phantom Rage den too far from this place, especially if he was intent on keeping his noble facade.
There are three of them, but only one of them is watching me. I don't think they know who I am, so maybe this is just a routine check? I wondered.
Back when I was still a Fledgling in the Phantom Rage and was sent out to spy on other people, doing routine scout checks was one of my jobs. I was usually ordered by my Trainer to keep an eye out for anyone I thought was interesting or out of the ordinary. If these individuals were ordered to do the same thing, then I popped up to them as someone interesting. Well, I was an albino el'doraw, this alone was enough to make me stand out in the crowd.
Now then, I wonder what I should do next? I thought when I finally spotted the sign of Maldur's Inn hanging above the entrance.
I could either wait patiently inside my room or go out for a bit of sightseeing. I chose the latter as I could use this time to get to learn the streets a bit, and if by chance I were to lure some members of the Phantom Rage to come after me as a potential target for whatever they had in mind, then I would find myself a good lead on where to find their hideout.
In regard to this matter, I knew for a certain that my target was somewhere within the Vasca family house. They were all part of the Masaru caste, so if I were to charge in knocking down their guards left and right, chances were that Hermandez would deny any involvement with the Phantom Rage. Since I didn't know the location of his hideout, he could also think that his minions would opt on trying to save him from a potential hostage situation.
All of this led me to one conclusion: I had to catch the rat in his own den or else I would risk to fail my entire mission.
Knowing this, I decided it was best to lay in wait, calmly preparing for the moment when I would get to bare my fangs and strike back.
The moment I stepped out of the inn for my walk, the lookout man who had been following me all this time went inside the inn. I found this to be a bit odd at first, but then I remembered that when I had assumed the Rank of Doll, I often bribed and paid numerous individuals regarded as Assets within the guild. These individuals either took the roles as our informants or made sure to look away when we were planning to do something that wasn't quite legal. This lookout man was either a very inapt Ant working for the guild or an Asset hired by an Elite or an Ant. The more adept assassins of the guilds would have been the Dolls, but those individuals had no reason to target me. If they did, then a male el'doraw would have already tried to seduce me. That was how they worked.
Within this Lundrara Kingdom, I saw no reason why anyone with a rank higher than Elite would make a den.
I moved away from the inn to see if anyone else tried to follow me, but after walking for a couple of minutes, I sensed no such individual. At the moment, there was no one tracking me.
Curious... I thought, but instead of turning around, I proceeded with my sightseeing.
By walking around until the sun had set, I was able to hear a lot of things. Several Masaru families were involved in illegal slave trading, one of them owned an illegal gambling den, and the markets were currently flooded with goods provided by a certain Shivas. The guards didn't bother breaking up fights when it came to the Saratu or the Tamur castes. Prostitution was present in all shapes and sizes in this city, and surprisingly enough, it had the backing of the Vasca family.
During this sightseeing tour of mine, I was also able to confirm one other thing. While draconians and dwarfs were indeed present here, they were very few in numbers. I estimated at most 100 in the entire city. Also, it appeared as though most people here confused me for a fancy elf wearing makeup, which I found to be a bit unexpected.
When I returned to the inn, I didn't notice any visible change in the innkeeper. There were no suspicious fellows among the clientele either, so I assumed that the lookout from before simply came in to see what sort of info he could find on me. Either this or I managed, to my own shame, confuse one organization's spy with another.
If that were the case and Nanya were to find out, I was certain she would use it to make fun of me. At the very least, I could find peace with the thought that the prankster demoness was far away from the Sorone Continent, most likely causing some sort of unprecedented chaos on the Demon Continent.
As I relinquished such thoughts from my mind, I retreated to my room and set up a [Detection Barrier]. Although it was called a 'barrier', it didn't block the intruders from stepping within my room. What it did was set up an area similar to Illsy's Dungeon Territory ability, which could detect and then silently let me know of their approach. Learning this skill first allowed me to learn and better understand the [Dungeon Heal] skill, with which I could heal a Dungeon's territory when it came under attack by another territory or outside force. All of Illsyore's wives knew it, especially since Anette and Kormian were Dungeons as well.
I planned on going to sleep and waiting until the next day to actually go hunt for the location of the Phantom Rage, but not even an hour after I turned off the lamp in my room, the [Detection Barrier] let me know that there were two individuals outside my window and another three behind the door.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
Well, this is the first chapter I posted after my break! Enjoy!
I know some of you are troubled by my typos and at times grammar mistakes. I do edit it to the best of my abilities before posting it, but some things just slip through for various reason (mostly because before editing it, the whole chapter is a mess). However, if you have fun looking for them, go ahead and let me know where they are. On my discord server, there's a special channel just for that: help_author_edit
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